Salmonella illness on rise in North Carolina
Public health officials give tips on prevention
Nearly five times as many cases of the food-borne illness Salmonella enteritidis have been detected by the State Laboratory of Public Health so far this year as compared to the first six months in 2004. The Lab has detected more cases of the bacterial infection this year to date than in the past three years put together for the same time period, indicating a troubling rise in S. enteritidis cases statewide.
Surrounding states are experiencing similar increases in Salmonella enteritidis. North Carolinaís divisions of Public Health and Environmental Health are working with other agencies here and in those states, as well as with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to halt the rapid increase of S. enteritidis. No common source has yet been identified for the North Carolina outbreak, so health officials are continuing their investigation. However, recent outbreaks of the illness in nearby states have largely been associated with eggs, as have several of North Carolinaís previous outbreaks. Beef, poultry, and unpasteurized (raw) milk have also been associated with outbreaks of this type of Salmonella.
Salmonella enteritidis causes fever, nausea, abdominal cramps and/or diarrhea usually beginning 12 to 72 hours after eating food or drinking a beverage contaminated with the bacteria. Symptoms can appear as early as six hours after eating contaminated food. Most people become ill enough to see a doctor, and some people must be hospitalized, a few with life-threatening complications.
Eggs can be an important source of nutrition. However, Salmonella bacteria can be found inside seemingly normal eggs. When those eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, the bacteria can cause sickness and even death. But, people can do a lot to prevent Salmonella infection. Proper handling and storage of eggs help prevent bacterial growth, and thorough cooking destroys the bacteria.
To avoid egg-borne Salmonella illness, follow these food-safety rules when buying, storing, preparing, serving and eating eggs.
Illness caused by Salmonella enteritidis usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without antibiotic treatment. However, the diarrhea can be severe, and some people may become ill enough to require hospitalization. Very young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of developing serious illness, and should visit a health care provider immediately if they develop these symptoms. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other parts of the body, and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
For more information on food safety, visit the U.S. Food and Drug
Administrationís Food Safety Web site at www.foodsafety.gov/~fsg/eggs.html.
To find out more about Salmonella, visit the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov.
Last Modified: June 29, 2005 June 30, 2005