A presumptive Salmonella outbreak in Colbert County, Alabama sickened at least 77 people and sent 12 to the hospital last weekend. The private event was held on Saturday, November 12, 2016. All patients are recovering. The Colbert County Health Department has been investigating this outbreak since Monday, November 14, 2016.
Public health officials have been interviewing patients, obtaining patient specimens, inspecting the food source, and obtaining food samples. All of the samples are being processed by the Alabama Department of Public Health’s laboratory. Initial patient specimens tested presumptive positive for Salmonella. It takes longer to test food specimens, so the results from those tests will be available later in the week or early next week.
The caterer who provided the food for the event is cooperating with the health department and is no longer preparing food for consumers. Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer, said that the health department is following up with local care facilities and patients to make sure that everyone involved in this outbreak is interviewed.
Dr. Landers added, “The health department’s priorities are the health of the patients, a thorough investigation, and preventing any additional illness. This was a private event with exposure to the food over a specific time period. Therefore, there is no threat to the general public.” The health department press release did not name the caterer at the center of this outbreak, but news reports have claimed it is Indelible Catering.
Those sickened are suffering symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and some fever, which are classic symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning. Symptoms usually begin six to seventy-two hours after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria.
Previous Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to chicken, beef, seafood, and contaminated produce. Illnesses can be caused by cross-contamination and by undercooked meat and poultry.