Public health officials in Oregon are looking into what caused 50-some people to become sickened by Salmonella typhimurium after a conference in late June. A spokeswoman for Multnomah County said several illnesses were confirmed after an Open Source Bridge Conference held June 23-26 at the Eliot Center in downtown Portland, and that there were reports of gastrointestinal problems from dozens of others. According to a statement posted Friday by Open Source Bridge, lab tests helped identify Salmonella typhimurium in six people who attended the conference. “In addition to these six cases, 45 other people reported having symptoms consistent with Salmonellosis. They were among more than 220 conference attendees who responded to a Health Department survey that conference organizers shared last week,” the statement read. Several catering firms reportedly supplied food for the conference, and at least 100 different food items were served. The county noted that this particular serotype of Salmonella typhimurium had not been seen in Oregon previously, leading health officials to conclude that the outbreak did not spread beyond the conference attendees. Salmonella bacteria typically cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment. However, in some cases diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.
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