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01-17-03: Salmonella cases show up in area
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 said.
    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 hospitalization.
    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 Kim Smith.
    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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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822