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204 people report symptoms of salmonella poisoning

(Camden) May 26, 2005 - Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers told News 10 Wednesday that 58-year-old James Alredge of Lugoff died from cardiac arrhythmia resulting from complications related to salmonella poisoning.

Alredge ate at the Old South restaurant in Camden last Thursday evening, he had eaten a meal of turkey and dressing, rice, chicken, peas and apple cobbler. The restaurant has voluntarily closed and is cooperating in DHEC's investigation. Investigators now beleive there were problems with the food as far back as last Sunday.

The number of people in Camden reporting food poisoning symptoms has climbed to 204, as of 11:00am Wednesday. A total of 37 people have been hospitalized; 26 at Kershaw County Medical Center, two at Providence Northeast in Columbia, two at Palmetto Health Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia, one at Providence Hospital in Columbia, two at Carolinas Medical Center in Pineville, N.C., two admissions to Tuomey Regional Medical Center in Sumter, one at the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital in Charleston, one at St. Francis Xavier Hospital in Charleston and one at Carolina Pines Hospital in Hartsville.

The DHEC has issued a statewide advisory due to cases being reported in Rock Hill and Charleston. They tell us they're looking anybody with food poisoning symptoms that ate at the Old South restaurant between Thursday and Sunday. Many of the people who showed symptoms ate at the Camden restaurant over the weekend, and while many are recovering from the symptoms, several people remain hospitalized.

The restaurant, believed to be the source of the outbreak, decided to shut down on Tuesday. Missy Reese with the Department of Health and Environmental Services says it was Old South's call to close its doors, but loyal regulars still consider the place a safe place to eat.

The DHEC is actually investigating several restaurants, but their main focus is reportedly on the Old South restaurant. The establishment serves food buffet style and does have take out.

DHEC says they worked quickly to contain the outbreak. Kershaw County Medical Center notified them Sunday afternoon. Dr. Gil Potter says by Sunday night, they suspected Old South and were later able to confirm that, "We can't act before we get notification, which was excellent. We were on the scene within an hour and half. I don't know how you could react much faster."

Potter says DHEC primary concern is compliance, "We're not in the business of closing restaurants. Our goal is to increase compliance. We wouldn't consider shutting a place down unless we saw that they were in gross application of food procedures."

Old South has posted a message to customers on their doors, "As a result of recent events, we have elected voluntarily to close our doors for a short period of time to allow this restaurant and dhec to work together."

DHEC has set up several phone numbers for people to call for information or if they're feeling symptoms: 803-432-7311, 803-432-7312 , 803-432-7139, 803-432-7140

Salmonella causes severe stomach and intestinal problems.

There have been two salmonella-related deaths in South Carolina since 1998; one in 2001 in Chesterfield County and one in Georgetown County in 2003.

The largest food borne illness outbreak in recent years in South Carolina occurred in 1996 in Greenville County which left 244 people ill. No deaths were reported.

Reported by Heather Brown

Updated 12:36pm by Bryce Mursch

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