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01-29-03: Good news in salmonella battle
The Daily Standard
    A few pieces of good news were reported today from local health and school officials concerning the recent salmonella poisoning outbreak focused in Celina.
    No new cases have been reported since Monday leaving the number of people in Mercer and Auglaize counties confirmed with the bacteria infection at 15.
    Nine of those confirmed are Celina East elementary students including one who was recently hospitalized due to the illness.
    Sally Bowman, nursing director for the Mercer County Health Department, also was pleased to announce all food samples taken from the cafeteria at East school were found to be negative for the bacteria.
    The agency is now awaiting the test results of other samples such as those from the school's restrooms and water fountains, Bowman said.
    "We also are waiting for the results of stool samples taken from adults at the school," she said.
    Results from the stool samples of healthy faculty members at East could aid the investigation if they show any signs of possible infection, she said. In rare cases, some people show no symptoms of the illness but can still be carriers, she added.
    Baffled by the results so far, Bowman and health officials at the state level still are searching for answers to the contamination source. They still have not been able to pinpoint a link between the nine East children, a Celina Intermediate student and another child from the Middle school who all were confirmed with the oral-fecal infection.
    Four adults also have been confirmed with the illness locally < one is an employee, a second is a parent of an infected East elementary child, a third is a St. Marys resident with a link to East school, and the fourth adult is a Celina resident with no connection to the school.
    Salmonella poisoning produces symptoms similar to the flu including severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps. The bacteria, which lives in the intestinal tract of both humans and animals, can be contracted in a variety of ways including the consumption or handling of uncooked or undercooked meat, poultry and eggs and egg products.
    Bowman said the bacteria would likely be spread faster among young children such as East students who represent kindergarten through third-grade.
    "It's a hardy bacteria which can stick around for some time," she said. "Elementary-age children are very touchy, and tend not to wash their hands as often as they should."
    Bowman said the bacteria is even more of a problem usually when it strikes a daycare center where toddlers tend to interact constantly.
    Bowman said she expects to have the results of more tests in her hand by the end of the week.
    "Hopefully the results will give us a better idea what we're dealing with," she added.


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