72 cases of Salmonella infection found in Lowndes County

Kelli Hernandez of the Valdosta Daily Times reports:

On Sept. 13, Bob Manning from the Georgia Public Health Laboratory (GPHL) contacted the Notifiable Diseases Epidemiology Section (NDES) of the South Georgia Health District (SGHD) that the lab had received eight Salmonella Montevideo isolates from South Georgia Medical Center between Aug. 28 to Sept. 5, according to a report filed by the Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health.

On average, Lowndes County reports approximately five cases per year of Salmonella Montevideo infection. Due to the drastic increase in cases, an investigation was initiated to determine whether or not the cases represented an outbreak in the area and if a common source could be identified amongst the patients, according to the report.

A questionnaire was developed to evaluate sources of possible exposure including animal contact, water sources, grocery stores, restaurants and specific food, according to the report.

Following the investigation and interviewing patients infected, 72 cases of Salmonella Montevideo infections with indistinguishable patterns were reported with the onset of gastrointestinal illness between Aug. 21 and Nov. 15, and investigators were able to determine the outbreak strain, according to the report.

Of the 72 cases, 19 patients were hospitalized and no deaths were reported, according to the report.

Following interviews of 52 of the 72 patients, the investigation revealed that a common fast food restaurant in Valdosta was the source of the outbreak strain. Of those interviewed, 82 percent reported that they had most likely eaten at the restaurant in the seven days before symptoms began, and the risk of being infected rose 1.5 times for those who had eaten at the restaurant.

On Oct. 6, Tad Williams, Environmental Health director for the South Georgia Health District, was notified by investigators that the fast food restaurant Arby’s was considered a possible source for the outbreak. Leslie Golden, Lowndes County Environmental Health specialist, inspected the restaurant and found no major violations as investigators continued interviews with patients, according to the report.

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