A second victim of the widespread Salmonella outbreak linked to Taco Bell restaurants filed a lawsuit against the restaurant chain Monday. The plaintiff in the lawsuit is Tammy Hale, a Scioto County, Ohio resident who became ill with a Salmonella Hartford infection after eating at a Taco Bell in Wheelersburg, Ohio in early June.
Tammy is one of 155 people from 21 states who are confirmed victims of two Salmonella outbreaks traced back to food served at Taco Bell restaurants this summer. Two serotypes of Salmonella were associated with the outbreak–Salmonella Hartford and Salmonella Baildon. Among Salmonella serotypes, these two are relatively rare.
Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and other fast food chain restaurants is the named defendant in the lawsuit. Attorneys Bill Marler of the Seattle food safety law firm Marler Clark and Fred Wendel of the Columbias, Ohio firm Stewart & DeChant filed the suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Scioto County, Ohio.
Marler said that in the past his firm has represented victims of E. coli and hepatitis A outbreaks that were ultimately traced back to Taco Bell food.
The plaintiff consumed food from Taco Bell in early June, and the next day began experiencing Salmonella symptoms. Her gastrointestinal pain increased over the next several days until she was hospitalized. Tests done in the ER confirmed that she was indeed infected with Salmonella Hartford. Hale is still recovering from her illness.
“Ohio has been hard-hit by these outbreaks,” said Marler. “Studies show that for every confirmed Salmonella illness in an outbreak, another 38.5 people who are sick don’t visit the doctor or don’t get tested. Using that math, close to a thousand Ohioans have likely been sickened. Many, like Tammy, are still trying to regain their health. At this point in the outbreak, our job is to help them do that.”
The two outbreaks are thought to have begun in April and stretched into early June. Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, and/or vomiting. In mild cases diarrhea may be non-bloody, occur several times per day, and not be very voluminous; in severe cases it may be frequent, bloody and/or mucoid, and of high volume. Fever generally occurs in the 100 F to 102 F range. Headaches, muscle pain, and joint pain are often reported as well. Whereas the diarrhea typically lasts 24 to 72 hours, patients often report fatigue and other nonspecific symptoms lasting 7 days or longer.