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Wyoming tracking Salmonella illness clusters; cause unknown

Public health officials are investigating clusters of Salmonella infections in central Wyoming that include sick people from schools and childcare centers.

The Wyoming Department of Health launched its investigation after receiving multiple reports of gastroenteritis illnesses in Fremont County. State health department employees are contacting people whose children attend the implicated schools and daycare centers.

Some of the sick people have tested positive for Salmonella infection and others have classic symptoms of salmonellosis but without laboratory confirmation of infection from the bacteria, according to health officials.

Teresa Nirider, the spokeswoman for Fremont County Public Health, told The Ranger newspaper in Riverton, WY, that state officials visited the county this past week. She told the newspaper that she did not have information on the total number of illnesses, but that a health care provider had alerted the state after seeing a cluster of cases.

Health officials are urging anyone who has symptoms of Salmonella poisoning to immediately seek medical attention. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to serious illness if infected.

Symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that is often bloody. Specific lab tests are necessary to diagnose Salmonella poisoning. Generally, symptoms develop between 12 and 72 hours or exposure to the microorganism, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Regardless of age, diarrhea may be so severe that hospitalization is required. Salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and other parts of the body. Unless patients receive prompt antibiotic treatment the infection can cause death.

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