Tarheel Q Salmonella Outbreak Hits 280


The Salmonella outbreak connected with the Tarheel Q restaurant in Lexington, NC, has been deemed over with at least 280 people sickened, according to a July 28 case count. One person died.

The designation was announced after two incubation periods (six days for most Salmonella cases) had passed without new illnesses since the restaurant reopened. Local health departments will no longer accept additional reports of illness.

The 280 cases were distributed across 21 North Carolina counties and 6 states. Of the North Carolina cases, 77 percent were residents of Davidson County and Davie County.

Laboratory testing indicated that the BBQ sample and a sample from a patient who became ill during the beginning of the outbreak were both positive for Salmonella species. The serogroup was Typhimurium, and both samples had the same PFGE pattern (DNA fingerprint). Three additional patients had a different PFGE pattern.

Fifty-eight percent of those sickened were male, 42 percent were between the ages of 20 and 49, and 9 percent had been hospitalized. Most cases had illness onset dates between June 16 and June 21.

Salmonella is an enteric bacterium, which means that it lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. Salmonella bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with human or animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Contaminated foods are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but all foods, including vegetables, may become contaminated. An infected food handler who neglects to wash his or her hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom may also contaminate food.

Once in the lumen of the small intestine, the bacteria penetrate the epithelium, multiply, and enter the blood within 24 to 72 hours. As few as 15-20 cells of Salmonella bacteria can cause salmonellosis or a more serious typhoid-like fever. Variables such as the health and age of the host, and virulence differences among the serotypes, affect the nature and extent of the illness. Infants, elderly, hospitalized, and immune suppressed persons are the populations that are the most susceptible to disease, and suffer the most severe symptoms.

The acute symptoms of Salmonella gastroenteritis include the sudden onset of nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea and mucous over a period of days. There is no real cure for Salmonella infection, except treatment of the symptoms. Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydration, often with intravenous fluids.

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 painful urination. This is called Reiter’s syndrome or reactive arthritis. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to treat. Antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in whether or not the person later develops arthritis.

Contact the Marler Clark Salmonella Attorneys

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection after consuming contaminated food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, you can contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation. Marler Clark is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks and other foodborne illnesses. The law firm has represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness infections, and is the only firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. You can fill out the contact form or call toll-free at 866-770-2032. There is no cost to you.

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