MADISONVILLE (9/20/13) - There have been seven culture confirmed cases of salmonella in Hopkins County including a death from the illness.
Four people have been hospitalized including the person that died, said Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach.
"There are always cases of salmonella in the county," said Beach. "Those cases are reported to the health department and we're looking for anything is outside the norm."
Beach said the outbreak is under investigation and names of the victims are privacy protected.
"We have our epidemiology nurse working on it, who has been since we first got reports," said Beach. "Having seven cases in a week is definitely outside the norm."
Beach said the cultures are also being typed for the subclasses of salmonella.
She said the investigation is continuing about how the illness is being spread. She cautioned about safely handing raw meats especially chicken and eggs.
"Eggs should never be eaten raw," she said. "Also, utensils used on raw meats should be separated from those used on cooked meats. And, surfaces where raw meat has been handled should be thoroughly cleaned."
Beach said that salmonella is typically transmitted by improperly handling food. Dogs and cats with diarrhea can transmit the illness to humans, she said.
Babies, the elderly and anyone with an autoimmune issue would be at higher risk of serious complications from salmonella.
"Good hand washing is the best preventative," said Beach. "Birds and reptiles carry salmonella and hands should be washed thoroughly after handling them."
Beach said the illness usually runs its course in four to seven days, however, severe diarrhea can cause dehydration and intravenous antibiotics may be needed. Anyone with severe diarrhea should consult their medical professional, she said.
Rita Dukes Smith
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