Salmonella outbreak at Albuquerque nursing home leaves one resident dead


ALBUQUERQUE—A Salmonella outbreak at the Albuquerque Manor nursing home sickened at least eighteen residents last week. One resident, an 80-year-old woman, died after experiencing symptoms of Salmonella infection. Health officials are investigating the outbreak.

This is the third outbreak of foodborne illness at nursing home and assisted living facilities in the Western United States since mid-October. An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at The Sequoias, a Portola Valley, California nursing home sickened 18 residents and seven staff members. Three residents died after suffering from complications of E. coli infection. A Norwalk Virus outbreak at an Eagle Point, Oregon assisted living center left 42 residents and 16 staff members ill.

“This is certainly a tragedy. While the particular source of the Salmonella has yet to be identified, it is clear there was a serious breakdown in fundamental safe food practices at the nursing home cafeteria,” said William Marler, an attorney with Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally known for its successful representation of victims of foodborne illness.

“Seniors are an at-risk population for foodborne illness. Facilities preparing food for the elderly should take extra precautions to ensure food safety standards are met.”

In 2002, Marler Clark represented the family of Florence Dodd, a nursing home resident who was served salmonella-contaminated cantaloupe. Her salmonella infection, and resulting severe dehydration and other complications, were determined to be the cause of her death. The firm currently represents families of victims of the E. coli outbreak at The Sequoias.

“Salmonella infections are not pretty,” Marler continued. “Victims suffer from intense abdominal cramping, bloody diarrhea, and nausea. Older people have a harder time fighting off infection, and their symptoms can be more severe.”

Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. A small number of persons who are infected with Salmonella will go on to develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and discomfort on urination. This is called Reiter's syndrome or reactive arthritis. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis that may be difficult to treat.

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BACKGROUND: The attorneys at Marler Clark have extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illness. The firm has successfully represented victims of Salmonella poisoning related to contaminated sprouts, cantaloupe, cereal, orange juice, and other foods. The firm represented victims against Sun Orchard after the company’s orange juice was tied to a Salmonella outbreak. Marler Clark also settled the claims of victims who ate Salmonella-tainted pastries at Black Forrest bakery in Clinton Township, Michigan, and 70 victims of Salmonella poisoning at a country club in Rochester, New York last summer. The firm represents 100 victims of the Chili’s Salmonella outbreak in Vernon Hills, Illinois this summer, and has successfully represented over 1,000 victims of Salmonella poisoning in several other states.