The Minnesota Department of Health has linked a Salmonella outbreak to two Burger King restaurants in Bemidji.
Doug Schultz, a spokesperson for the Health Department, said the department has confirmed 27 cases, and received reports of four more probable cases.
Both Burger King sites closed on Thursday, November 30th.
“They may have been sick a couple weeks or so before then,” Schultz said. “It takes a while before people get symptoms, and then they’re sick enough to go to the doctor, and then we identify.”
Once the Department of Health identified the outbreak in September they put “stringent” interventions in place, Schultz said. The Burger Kings were both cleaned and any employees with symptoms were kept from working until they were symptom-free for 72 hours, but the precautions did not stop the outbreak.
“Most of the time that does the trick, 98 percent of the time we don’t see further transmission,” Schultz said. “In this case we had two additional illnesses pop up this week.”
Schultz said the MDH believes the outbreak is due to employee illness, rather than a specific contaminated food item. Before the restaurants can reopen each employee must be tested for Salmonella twice.
According to Schultz, the restaurants will reopen next week, at the earliest, after a thorough re-cleaning.
“We do clearly have evidence of food worker illness being part of the problem,” Schultz said.
Burger King has not released a statement on the outbreak.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, range widely, and are sometimes absent altogether. The most common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Typical symptoms of Salmonella infection appear 6 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food and last for 3 to 7 days without treatment. They include:
- Abdominal Cramps
- Fever of 100 F to 102 F
- Bloody diarrhea
- Body Aches