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County health officials continue to investigate a Salmonella outbreak linked to a Georgia caterer who provided food for recent events. At least 70 people reported becoming ill after the events, with at least four admitted to hospitals.

The Plain Nuts Catering & Deli of Covington, GA, closed voluntarily, according to the Gwinnett, Newton, & Rockdale County Health Departments. As of Monday evening the caterer’s website did not appear to have any information about the situation.

Sick people reported attending events on April 28 and May 9 that were catered by Plain Nuts. Another group of people who did not attend the events but did eat food from the caterer is also included in the outbreak count. 

Reports of the illnesses first reached the health department on May 4. With all of the sick people having attended the same invitation-only event on April 28, public health officials began investigating the caterer. On May 15, the department received word of illnesses among attendees of the May 9 event.   

Laboratory test results for many of the sick people are still pending, but confirmed Salmonella infections have already been confirmed in attendees of both events and among the group of sick people who did not attend,  but who ate food from Plain Nuts.

County officials did not indicate whether the sick people who did not attend the events ate the Plain Nuts food at the caterer’s restaurant location or in the form of leftovers carried out by attendees.

“Plain Nuts Catering & Deli has been fully cooperative with all health department requests and has provided all requested information,” according to the department’s most recent outbreak update. 

“Additional on-site training has been provided to all staff and additional screening of food service staff is underway. In addition, the facility has followed the Health Department recommendations of conducting a full enhanced cleaning of the facility prior to re-opening.”

Advice for the public
Anyone who attended the April 28 or May 9 events — which were not specifically identified by the health department — or who have consumed foods or beverages from Plain Nuts and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about their possible exposure to the pathogen.

Symptoms of infection usually appear 6 to 48 hours after exposure, but can take much longer to develop in some people, according to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. In most people symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. 

Some people may have severe diarrhea and need to be hospitalized. Although anyone can get a Salmonella infection, older adults, children younger than 5, and people with immune systems weakened from medical conditions such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and cancer, are more likely to develop a serious illness.

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