September 24, 2021

Church Chicken Dinner Salmonella and E. coli Outbreak in AL

The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating an outbreak of both E. coli and Salmonella at a church chicken dinner, according to One person may have died after the May 30, 2014 event. Nineteen people in Morgan county had symptoms of food poisoning, including vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.

Chicken DinnerThree local hospitals have reported treating ill persons. The two confirmed cases tested positive for E. coli, Salmonella, or both. The person who died had an E. coli infection.

There are several news reports about this outbreak; each has slightly different information. WHNT TV states that state epidemiologist Dr. Mary McIntyre confirmed there are 19 combined cases of E. coli and Salmonella in this outbreak. That report states that one of the ill persons who may be part of this outbreak ate at a public luncheon at a church in Decatur, Alabama on May 30. states that the event was at Bridge Builders Church on Beltline Road that was an informational workshop for seniors. None of this information has been confirmed by officials.

Public health officials are still looking for a cause of the outbreak. Specimens are being tested at laboratories. The meal was catered.

The health department is asking that anyone who was at the dinner in Morgan county on May 30, 2014 and has been ill contact them and provide a specimen. The investigation will solve this mystery more quickly if there are more specimens to test. These types of investigations use questionnaires and interviews, along with reviews of medical records, to solve the outbreak.

While it’s not unusual for an outbreak to have multiple strains of the same pathogenic bacteria, an outbreak with two completely different bacteria is rare. Salmonella and E. coli are found in raw meats, poultry, and eggs, although cross-contamination can contaminate any other food, including greens and fruits and vegetables.

The very young, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and people who have chronic illnesses are more susceptible to food poisoning. It’s important to always cook meats, poultry, and eggs to a safe internal temperature, to hold food above 140°F and below 40°F, and to avoid cross-contamination.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, muscle pains, and blood in the stool. Symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe cramps, diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, mild fever, nausea, and vomiting. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a complication of an E. coli infection; that can lead to kidney failure and death.


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