A foodborne illness outbreak in Colbert County, Alabama landed at least 12 people in the hospital last weekend. The Alabama Department of Public Health announced that 77 people may have developed Salmonella gastroenteritis after eating food at a wedding reception at the Radisson Inn in Sheffield.
The wedding was catered by Indelible Catering, a company unassociated with the Radisson hotel. According to patients who attended the event, the catering company served chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes.
Public health officials are still investigating and testing samples of the food to determine the cause of the outbreak. It is notable, however, that 19 people became sick with Salmonella and E.coli after attending an event catered by the same company in 2014.
According to a health department statement, Indelible is fully cooperating with the investigation and has ceased all food preparations.
“The health department’s priorities are the health of the patients, a thorough investigation and preventing any additional illness,” said assistant state health officer Dr. Karen Landers. “This was a private event with exposure to the food over a specific time period. Therefore, there is no threat to the general public.”
People develop Salmonella gastroenteritis from eating food that has been contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella. It can occur during the food handling process, though some animals carry the bacteria while they are alive as well. Foods like beef, poultry, eggs, and milk are most commonly infected, but vegetables can also become contaminated.
Symptoms of Salmonella gastroenteritis typically include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Although the illness usually clears up on its own within one week, some patients can experience severe dehydration and diarrhea that would require hospitalization.
As many as 2.4 million people get married every year, but a whopping 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne diseases — though not always at wedding receptions.
Fortunately, scientists from the University of California, Irvine and MIT have developed a brand new method for treating Salmonella and similar illnesses. Their treatment involves enabling the body to create new antibodies for attacking invasive microbes. This method, they say, will provide an alternative to antibiotics.