A Salmonella outbreak at Johnny Ray’s in Pelham, Alabama is being investigated by the Alabama Department of Public Health. As of January 8, 2016, four people who ate at the restaurant at 309 Huntley Parkway have tested positive for Salmonella. Two of those sickened have matching patterns of a rare strain of Salmonella Enteritidis.
The restaurant was closed on January 8, 2016 by emergency order after the Bureau of Environmental Services visited the facility on December 15 and 22 in 2015 and January 6 in 2016. Other possible cases are being investigated at this time. Final lab and environmental test results are pending and will be released when received by the state.
The State Epidemiologist, Dr. Mary G. McIntyre offered advice to help people reduce their risk of this type of foodborne illness. She said to avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or other meats. Also thoroughly wash produce before eating it, and follow safe food handling practices during preparation. Always wash your hands before and during food preparation. Keep raw food, especially raw eggs, meat, and poultry, away from foods that will not be cooked, and separate uncooked from cooked food to avoid cross-contamination. And if you are sick, especially with a diarrheal illness, never prepare or serve food for others, even if you do wash your hands.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, nausea, abdominal cramps, fever, chills, headache, and vomiting. The symptoms usually begin within 6 to 72 hours after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria.
While most people recover on their own without a doctor’s intervention, some become so ill they must be hospitalized. There is no word on whether or not anyone in this particular outbreak has been hospitalized. We also do not know how long the outbreak has been going on.
Most people do not visit a doctor when they have this type of infection. In fact, the multiplier for Salmonella outbreaks used by health departments is 30.3, simply because most cases are not counted. That means as many as 120 people could be sick in this particular outbreak.
But the long term complications of a Salmonella infection can be serious, including heart problems, high blood pressure, and Reiter’s Syndrome. That last complication can cause reactive arthritis, which includes joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination that can last for months or years. If you do have this infection, it’s important that it be noted on your chart so your doctor can be aware of any possible problems in the future.
If you ate at Johnny Ray’s restaurant in December 2015 or January 21016 and have developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning, see your doctor. Salmonella infections are a reportable illness, and if you do test positive, your doctor will report your illness to the state. If more people come forward and are included in this outbreak will make it easier for public health officials to solve the outbreak.