As of July 8, 2015, the Salmonella outbreak connected with the Tarheel Q restaurant in Lexington, NC, has been designated as over with at least 280 people sickened, according to a July 28 case count. One person died. The designation was announced after two incubation periods (six days for most Salmonella cases) had passed without new illnesses since the restaurant reopened. Local health departments will no longer accept additional reports of illness. The 280 cases were distributed across 21 North Carolina counties and 6 states. Of the North Carolina cases, 77 percent were residents of Davidson County and Davie County. Laboratory testing indicated that the BBQ sample and a sample from a patient who became ill during the beginning of the outbreak were both positive for Salmonella species. The serogroup was Typhimurium, and both samples had the same PFGE pattern (DNA fingerprint). Three additional patients had a different PFGE pattern. Fifty-eight percent of those sickened were male, 42 percent were between the ages of 20 and 49, and 9 percent had been hospitalized. Most cases had illness onset dates between June 16 and June 21. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized to prevent severe and sometimes fatal complications. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. Prevention steps include thorough handwashing, especially before and after handling food, after handling animals, and after using the bathroom. Safe food preparation practices are also essential, such as keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold, washing all produce, keeping raw and cooked foods separate, and making sure all meats and eggs are thoroughly cooked.
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