The Durham County Health Department announced Tuesday that it is investigating a foodborne illness outbreak among people who ate food prepared at Bullock’s Barbecue, a restaurant located at 3330 Quebec Drive in Durham.  The outbreak reportedly began on April 20.

pulled-pork-featured.jpgAccording to the health department, Salmonella is the suspected source of illness among Bullock’s Barbeque customers, but further testing is underway at the North Carolina State Laboratory to confirm the source of illness.

Proper disposal and clean-up of potentially affected food items and equipment at the restaurant has been conducted, and investigators have as yet been unable to identify a particular food source that caused the outbreak.  Food samples are being tested at the state lab.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection

The acute symptoms of Salmonella gastroenteritis include the sudden onset of nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea with mucous. Fever is almost always a symptom. Vomiting is less common than diarrhea. Headaches, myalgias (muscle pain), and arthralgias (joint pain) are often reported as well. The onset of symptoms usually occurs within 6 to 72 hours after the ingestion of Salmonella bacteria. The infectious dose is small, probably from 15 to 20 cells.

Reactive arthritis is an uncommon, but debilitating, result of Salmonella infection. The symptoms of reactive arthritis usually occur between one and three weeks after infection, and include at least two of three seemingly unrelated symptoms: reactive arthritis, conjunctivitis (eye irritation), and urinary tract infection.

The arthritis associated with Salmonella infection typically affects the knees, ankles, and feet, causing pain and swelling. Wrists, fingers and other joints can be affected, though with less frequency. With reactive arthritis, the affected person commonly develops inflammation where the tendon attaches to the bone, a condition called enthesopathy. Some people also develop heel spurs–bony growths in the heel that cause chronic or long-lasting foot pain. Arthritis from Reiter’s Syndrome can also affect the joints of the back and cause spondylitis–inflammation of the vertebrae in the spinal column. The duration of reactive arthritis symptoms can vary greatly. Most of the literature suggests that the majority of affected persons recover within a year. The condition, can, however, be permanent.

To report a gastrointestinal illness in the past week associated with Bullock’s Barbeque restaurant, contact the Durham County Health Department at 919-560-7882.