MADISONVILLE, Ky. (9/26/13) – The number of confirmed salmonella cases in Hopkins County vary, depending on your perspective.
The Hopkins County Health Department reports there have been 10 culture-confirmed cases of salmonella related illness in Hopkins County.
But that doesn't necessarily mean all the cases are linked. Tests performed by the Cabinet for Public Health (CPH) in Frankfort confirms five cases of salmonella illness in Hopkins County have the same genetic fingerprint, according to CPH spokeswoman Gwenda Bond.
However, there are a total of 13 suspected salmonella cases in the western Kentucky counties of Hopkins, Webster and Christian counties being studied by the CPH. Of the five Hopkins County linked and confirmed cases, one of those includes a death from the illness. Lab tests on the other cases are pending, said Bond.
Bond said the local health department bases the 10-case scenario on preliminary lab results while the state office has completed the more sophisticated pattern-matching lab tests on the five.
Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach, who has been in Frankfort for the past two days, said Thursday that the state CPH will be determining if all 10 cases are genetically related.
"Those figures are like comparing apples to oranges," said Beach. "They have confirmed that five cases are related and we're waiting for them to tell us if there are more."
Bond told SurfKY News Wednesday that no particular food source has been established in the cases.
"We don't have a solid connection yet," she said. "We don't jump to conclusions."
Last year, an outbreak of salmonella was traced to two grocery stores in Kentucky selling cantaloupe from one specific farm.
Bond said anyone with symptoms — diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps — should contact their healthcare professional.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said the CDC currently is not investigating the outbreak.
While state CPH is continuing its investigation to genetically identify cases to type for the same strain, food histories for each of the cases have been collected, said Bond.
"Anytime there is a food-borne illness, we do an investigation to determine the source," said Bond. "Proper food handing along with frequent hand washing are still the best ways to prevent the illness."
Beach said only cases with a Hopkins County address are classified as Hopkins County cases.
"If someone contracts the illness here but they are traveling through, they are not counted as Hopkins County," she said.
Beach said the five linked cases have been identified by the state CPH as Type B Typhimurium.
Rita Dukes Smith
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