Salmonella investigation continues

Sep. 24, 2013 @ 12:52 PM

State and local health officials are still looking into the causes of an outbreak of salmonella cases in Cleveland and Rutherford counties.

The outbreak has been traced to a barbecue fund raiser at Sandy Plains Baptist Church Sept. 7 in Cleveland County.

Helen White, nursing supervisor at the Rutherford County Health Department, said Monday the volume of calls received regarding potentially sick people has started to subside.

“It is slowing down and we aren’t getting as many calls,” White said. “We are encouraging people, if they were sick between the 7th and the 14th, to call the health department.”

Additionally, she said all those previously hospitalized for the infection have been released with no new admittance. Prior to that, a total of 13 had been admitted to the hospital — nine from Cleveland County and four from Rutherford County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define salmonella as an infection. According to the CDC website “most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) are investigating probable cases in Gaston County and Spartanburg, S.C. but those cases have not been confirmed.

“We’re still seeing some cases because people didn’t know about it,” White said. “This is a virus that you can have for a while.”

Health officials have said that, while new cases are being reported, the most recent date of the illness onset for all cases is Sept. 14. As of Monday evening, there were five confirmed cases and 41 probable cases in Rutherford County

White said DHHS is continuing its investigation into the outbreak.

“The samples that are sent to the state lab that test positive will go through further tests,” White said. “That can help identify the type. They are also doing case-control studies to compare with people who did get sick.

“They are trying to see if it [the cause] can be identified.”

DHHS did release the following recommendations for those who believe they may have contracted the virus:

• If you attended the event and became ill with intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting, consult your healthcare provider and inform them of your exposure at this event.

• Persons who brought home food purchased at the fund raiser should discard it and not consume any remaining food.

• Health care providers should inform their local health department of any associated case, whether confirmed or suspected.

Call the Rutherford County Health Department at 828-287-6100 for any further information.