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|01-17-03: Salmonella cases show up in area
|By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
The Daily Standard
Five cases of salmonella poisoning have been confirmed recently
involving one adult and four children from the Celina area.
All five people who have been infected with the illness have either
recovered or are currently recovering, said Sally Bowman, nursing director for the Mercer
County Health Department. So far, a source for the contamination has not been found.
"We're still investigating but so far we've not found a link
between the five people, which would point to a common source," Bowman said.
Typically, Mercer County sees only 7 to 15 cases of the illness each
year and more often they arise in the summer months, she said.
Cindy Jones, nursing director at the Auglaize County Health Department
told The Daily Standard this morning that the agency has not received any confirmation of
salmonella cases yet this year. Last year the county confirmed only three cases, Jones
Of the four Celina children confirmed to have salmonella poisoning,
three of them are students at East elementary and the fourth is a student in the city's
intermediate school, Bowman explained. Two of the elementary school children are siblings.
Letters were sent home Thursday to all parents of East elementary
students to inform them of the recent cases. The letter states the school has experienced
unusual absenteeism numbers due to influenza, but advises parents that an illness with flu
symptoms lasting beyond two days may require additional concern at this time.
East elementary Principal Matt Miller said, as of this morning, he had
not received any other calls concerning the possibility of more salmonella cases.
Bowman said the school cafeteria is not suspect at this time because
the children did not become sick at the same time. Also, she believes there would be more
cases around if the school was the origin.
Salmonellosis is an infection with a bacteria called salmonella.
Persons with the illness develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after
being infected. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most persons recover without
treatment of antibiotics. However, complications such as dehydration can occur and lead to
Salmonella poisoning can only be confirmed in a laboratory. The five
cases in Mercer County were confirmed by lab technicians at Joint Township District
Memorial Hospital, St. Marys.
Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other
animals including birds and are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated
with animal feces.
"Eating undercooked meats and poultry, raw eggs and milk, these
are all ways people can get salmonella," said Bowman, a registered nurse.
Other ways the infection can be spread include the handling of animals,
chopping raw meats on cutting boards shared by other foods (cross-contamination), even
eating raw eggs in cookie dough, homemade ice cream and frosting can be a way of ingesting
the salmonella bacteria.
"The best prevention is washing your hands frequently,"
Bowman said. The same advice was given to elementary parents by Miller and school nurse
Bowman said, just like the flu, there isn't much you can do if you get
the infection except to treat the symptoms, get rest and drink plenty of fluids.
"If we get more cases it could help us determine a possible source
of the bacteria," she said. "There are so many viruses going around this time of
year. If doctors don't suspect salmonella, they probably aren't testing for it."
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