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Mass Illness strikes Caldwell Parish town, Health Department iss - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Mass Illness strikes Caldwell Parish town, Health Department issues statement

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy of MGN Online Courtesy of MGN Online
Columbia, LA -

An illness that sent nearly two hundred people to the hospital in a small Caldwell Parish town may be linked to salmonella poisoning. 

According to KNOE, results are still coming in before making a determination, but residents in the town of Columbia say that they believe a pot of jambalaya is to blame. 

The food was served at a softball event Monday, the same time as reports of the illnesses started KNOE writes. Officials have not determined what caused the illness, but as of Thursday, officials were working to link the cases.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported that as of October 19, 49 cases of a gastrointestinal illness have been confirmed with 31 people hospitalized. One death has occurred and an autopsy is occurring to determine if the death was caused by this illness or other causes. The ages of those with a confirmed illness range from 15 years old to 70.

Laboratory samples taken from five individuals have tested positive for Salmonella. Health officials believe that at least 300 people were served the suspect jambalaya and are anticipating there will be more reports of illness in the next several days. As per a 2016 census report, the town of Columbia has a population estimate of 384. 

Officials ask that those who may have purchased food from the fundraiser in Columbia,  throw away any food not consumed, including sides that may have come in contact with the jambalaya. 

How to spot symptoms of Salmonella poisoning:

Symptoms usually begin within six to 72 hours after exposure, although they can begin up to a week after exposure. Symptoms commonly last four to seven days. 

Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Most people recover from Salmonella without treatment, but symptoms may be so severe that it is necessary to go to the hospital. Older adults, infants, and those who have impaired immune systems are at highest risk.

The CDC suggests contacting your doctor or healthcare provider if you have:

  • Diarrhea and a fever over 101.5°F.
  • Diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving.
  • Bloody stools.
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down.

Signs of dehydration, such as:

  • Making very little urine.
  • Dry mouth and throat.
  • Dizziness when standing up.

What to Know about Salmonella Poisoning

Salmonella bacteria are found in some foods such as raw chicken, turkey, beef, pork, other meat, eggs, and unpasteurized milk products.

Infected people and animals, especially reptiles (like iguanas and turtles), ducks, and chickens can also have Salmonella in their feces. Infected people may spread the bacteria to others through their feces for several weeks or more, even after they feel better.

You can get Salmonella infections if you:

  • Eat raw or undercooked foods such as meat, poultry, or eggs
  • Eat cooked food that came in contact with contaminated raw food
  • Eat food or drinks contaminated by an infected person
  • Are in close contact with a child or adult who has Salmonella
  • Come in contact with infected animals or their feces.

How to Prevent Salmonella Infections

  • Eat thoroughly cooked meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. Using an accurate meat thermometer is the best way to ensure that food is thoroughly cooked.
  • Eat only pasteurized milk and dairy products.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Eliminate cross-contamination from raw foods to cooked ones by thorough washing of cutting boards, utensils, and hands, and by discarding used meat and poultry packages.
  • Wash hands after using the toilet, changing diapers, touching pets, before and after handling food, and before eating.
  • Wash hands after touching animals/pets, animal feces, or items contaminated with animal feces such as bedding, dishes, or swimming/bathing water.
  • Don't use food preparation areas to bathe pets or to wash their dishes, cages, or aquariums.

For more information about Salmonella and food safety visit the CDC website; or FoodSafety.gov.

(All information above on the salmonella poisoning was provided by the Louisiana Department of Health and The CDC)

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