2009-01-15 / Living

Health department offers info on salmonella outbreak

Rosemary Arnholt rarnholt@viewnewspapers.net

LAPEER — A Lapeer woman is among the victims of the salmonella typhimurium outbreak that has so far affected 400 people in 43 states. The 19-year-old woman attends Saginaw Valley State University and was not living in Lapeer County at that time of her illness in November. She has since recovered.

Salmonella causes gastrointestinal symptoms, including a sudden onset of headache, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes vomiting. As of Jan. 14, 20 cases had been reported in Michigan.

The Centers for Disease Control and public health officials are investigating the outbreak, which is a specific strain of the salmonella bacteria, say officials from the Lapeer County Health Dept.

Previous outbreaks were traced to contaminated poultry, produce, raw milk and cheese and contact with animals such as small turtles.

Because foods of animal origin may be contaminated with salmonella, people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat. No one should consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products, and produce should be thoroughly washed.

Cross-contamination of foods also should be avoided. Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.

Careful and regular hand washing is the most important step that residents can take to reduce their exposure to these illnesses, says Stephanie Simmons, director/health officer of the LCHD. — R.A.

Symptoms noted for abdominal illness
During the past two months Michigan has seen a surge in cases of viral gastrointestinal illness, or what people mistakenly call the “stomach flu.”

This illness includes vomiting, diarrhea and chills and typically lasts 24-48 hours. Many residents have reported this type of illness to the Lapeer County Health Dept., officials say.

LCHD officials recommend that residents should consult their physician for any gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, that last more than a few days. They should also seek consultation if experiencing bloody diarrhea, severe vomiting leading to dehydration, or if they have a compromised immune system because of illness, medications or chemotherapy.

The health department also should be notified if residents experience a gastrointestinal illness involving fever, diarrhea and nausea/vomiting that has lasted longer than a few days. Call the LCHD at 810-667-0448.

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