Woody McMillin of the Tennessee Department of Health told Food Poisoning Bulletin that they are investigating an outbreak of illness among people who have attended the Irish Festival in Erin. At least 50 people have become ill.
Lab reports have indicated that some of the patients have tested positive for Salmonella enterica. Mr. McMillin added that “we have also heard from many people who attended the festival who did not become sick, and as part of our investigation we are working to complete interviews with them.”
The Festival, which is held every year at the end of July, is usually attended by about 20,000 people. The event benefits St. Patrick’s School in McEwen, Tennessee. The attendees start getting sick a few days after the event picnic. The Health Department is testing food items from the event, but have not identified the source of the illness. Many types of foods were served at the picnic, including hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and other typical picnic fare.
If you have attended this picnic and have been ill with the symptoms of Salmonella, see your doctor and tell her that you were at this event. Some people who did get sick most likely didn’t see a doctor, since most foodborne illness cases are unreported. But a single patient might have clues that will solve the mytery.
Salmonella enterica is found in beef, chicken, and eggs. Symptoms of Salmonella foodborne illness include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually start about 12 hours to 3 days after infection. The illness can last up to a week. Most people get better without treatment, but anyone in a high risk group may suffer dehydration. Complications of salmonellosis can include Reiter’s syndrome, which can cause reactive chronic arthritis.