The Salmonella outbreak linked to the Tarheel Q restaurant in Lexington, North Carolina is over, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The final case count is 280 people sickened in seven states.
Of the cases in North Carolina, 77% live in Davidson and Davie counties. Of those cases, 58% are male, 42% are between the ages of 20 and 49; 20% have visited a doctor, 13% have gone to the emergency room for treatment; 9% have been hospitalized, and one person has died. Most people, or 79%, were sickened between Tuesday, June 16, 2015 and Sunday, June 21, 2015.
Lab testing found the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in a sample of BBQ taken from the restaurant. That strain matches the bacteria from a case patient; they both have the same PFGE pattern.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps that develop 12 to 72 hours are exposure. The illness usually lasts about a week. Most people recover without a doctor’s care, but some become so ill, either from dehydration or sepsis, that they must be hospitalized.
Salmonella infections usually occur through eating contaminated food. Foods that contain Salmonella include chicken, raw milk, produce, pork, beef, and seafood. Foods should be thoroughly cooked to a safe temperature as measured with a food thermometer. Avoid cross-contamination between raw and uncooked foods, and always wash your hands well before and after preparing food.