According to a “News Flash” that Kenosha County Division of Health (“KCDH”) posted on May 21, 2015, an outbreak investigation was in progress with regard to “individuals with gastrointestinal illness and exposure to Supermercado Los Corrales. As of this time, more than 60 ill persons have been identified.” The KCDH further stated as follows:
- To-date Salmonella with a matching DNA fingerprint has been found in five case patients. Additional stool sample are currently being tested and the nuber of confirmed cases is expected to increase as those results become available.
- Based on the interviews that have been conducted, the source of the outbreak appears to be pork carnitas sold at Supermercado Los Corrales. Testing of food from Supermercado Los Corrales is currently in progress.
The meat and food preparation area of Supermercado Los Corrales is temporarily closed while the investigation is ongoing[.]
- The investigation into the outbreak began when KCDH received a report of a stool sample that had tested positive for Salmonella. The food implicated as the source of the outbreak is believed to have been purchased over Mother’s Day weekend, May 9 and 10, 2015.
As reported in a news story posted on Fox6Now.com, “dozens in the area had the same complaints” about having become sick “after they had eaten food from the same grocery store during the same time period.” Mark Melotik of KCDH is quoted in the story as stating, “Any time you have numerous families, it potentially is large. We are dealing with over a couple dozen people calling in that they are ill.”
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.