As of Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 262 people have fallen ill and one has died in a Salmonella outbreak connected with the Tarheel Q barbecue restaurant in Lexington, NC. According to reports, 7 percent of the illnesses have resulted in hospitalization. A previous update to the investigation on June 1 gave the following information:
- Of 248 illnesses with available information, case distribution includes 19 North Carolina counties and 5 states.
- Of the North Carolina cases, 72 percent of cases are residents of Davidson County and Davie County.
- Laboratory testing indicates that the BBQ sample and a sample from a patient who became ill during the beginning of the outbreak are both positive for Salmonella species. The serogroup was found to be typhimurium. Both samples have the same PFGE pattern (e.g., DNA fingerprint).
- More than 50 additional clinical specimens are pending results at the state lab.
- Of these 248 cases:
- 55 percent are male.
- 41 percent are between the ages of 20 and 49.
- 20 percent have visited their provider.
- 13 percent have visited the ED (emergency department).
- 6 percent have been hospitalized.
- 1 death has been identified. (Further details regarding the deceased are not available to protect patient confidentiality.)
- 79 percent of cases had illness onset dates between Tuesday, June 16, 2015, and Sunday, June 21, 2015.
At least six people have filed lawsuits against the Tarheel Q in connection with this outbreak. The restaurant reportedly reopened on Wednesday, July 1. Previous coverage follows: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday that 232 cases of diarrheal illness have been identified which are associated with eating food from the Tarheel Q restaurant in Lexington, NC. The case distribution includes 16 North Carolina counties and five states. Of the North Carolina people sickened, 75 percent are residents of Davidson County and Davie County. Laboratory testing indicates that the BBQ sample and a sample from a patient who became ill during the beginning of the outbreak are both positive for Salmonella species. The serogroup was found to be Typhimurium. Both samples have the same PFGE pattern (DNA fingerprint). More than 50 additional clinical specimens are pending results at the state lab. The Davidson County Health Department is asking anyone who became ill with diarrhea within four days after eating at Tarheel Q on or after June 6 to call (336) 236-3096. Collecting the information is important to help officials determine the size and impact of the outbreak. Also, food purchased from the restaurant and taken home between June 6-19 should not be consumed by either people or animals, officials said. Persons who are ill or experiencing symptoms should drink sufficient fluids to stay well hydrated and should seek medical care from their private doctor, urgent care or emergency room if their diarrhea and/or vomiting don’t improve. Salmonella is transmitted by food, water or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal or person. It can commonly be isolated from poultry, egg and milk products, which is why thorough cooking and pasteurization is needed. Symptoms may be mild and a person can continue to carry Salmonella for weeks after symptoms have stopped. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and stomach pain 6 to 72 hours after infection.
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