The Cole County Health Department (CCHD) has released information about the Salmonella outbreak investigation in that area. As of April 18, 2017, 25 people are now sick in the area.
Public health officials started to notice an increase in the number of Salmonella cases in the area on April 12, 2017. On April 13, 2017, CCHD started to ask Infection Control staff at local hospitals about cases and to alert them to this problem. CCHD staff also consulted with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to see if there was a corresponding increase in any surrounding counties. There are non so far.
Over the last week, the number of cases has continued to rise. Patients are being interviewed by staff members for information about the foods they have eaten, where they have eaten, and if they have been engaging in risk behaviors like handling baby chicks or other poultry.
Several food establishments have been named in the interviews. But some of those sickened did not eat at any food establishment. CCHD staff has alerted City of Jefferson Environmental Public Health staff about food establishments where sick people have eaten. City of Jefferson Environmental Public Health staff have investigated these leads to see if the food establishments were following safe food handling procedures.
Public health officials are continuing to interview patients. They are also waiting for pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE) results on samples sent to the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory. That testing determines a DNA fingerprint for bacteria to see if all of the illnesses are related. If they are, that can mean that the illnesses were caused by one source.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection can include nausea, fever, vomiting, abdominal pains, and diarrhea. Symptoms usually begin a few days after infection, and a person can be sick for 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without medical intervention, but some must be hospitalized because they are so sick. Dehydration and sepsis are two of the main reasons for hospitalization.
In addition, a Salmonella infection can cause long term health problems. One of those, Reiter’s Syndrome, can lead to reactive arthritis and eye problems. High blood pressure and irritable bowel syndrome are other possible complications.
If you live in Cole County, Missouri and have been sick with the symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning, see your doctor. This is a reportable condition and your illness details will be sent to public health officials.