Buncombe County investigating 3 salmonella cases

Nanci Bompey NBompey@CITIZEN-TIMES.com

August 8, 2008 11:11 am

Source of Article: http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880808030



Asheville Health officials are investigating the source of salmonella bacteria that has sickened three people in Buncombe County.

The people all got sick and visited Mission Hospitals in late July, prompting the health department to launch an investigation this week.

"We are conducting interviews will the ill persons to see if there's anything they have in common," said Eddie Shook, program coordinator for community protection and preparedness at the Buncombe County Health Center. "Anytime that we see confirmed cases of a communicable disease we want to see if there are any commonalities."

Shook said one restaurant is part of the investigation, along with other possible sources of the bacteria including foods from a common distributor.

He said the strain of bacteria that has sickened the three people is not the same strain of salmonella that has caused a outbreak nationwide.

Shook said it is common for the people to be sickened by salmonella during the summer months, when people have more picnics and cookouts.

Salmonella is often spread through undercooked animal products, especially chicken, or improper handwashing or food handling.

Shook said there were 40 cases of salmonella in Buncombe County from July 2007-June 2008.

He said he did not know how many of those cases were investigated. An investigation is usually prompted by cases that occur within the same time frame.

"You want to make sure there is not a common thread going on there," Shook said.

He said investigators could not rule out that there will be no more related cases, but that they are reaching a point where additional cases would be too far outside a reasonable time frame to be related.

People infected with the bacteria typcially exhibit symptoms within six-72 hours, he said.

"Time is on our side," Shook said.

The majority of investigations do not result in a source being found, he said. With that in mind, Shook said people should take the following precautions:

people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat.

produce should be washed.

Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils should be washed thoroughly after touching uncooked foods.

Hands should be washed before handling food, and between handling different food items.



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