Local news reports say a Salmonella outbreak in Gainesville, FL, has been linked to boxed lunches made in a woman’s home.

The Gainesville Sun reported today that public health officials in Alachua County said 47 people became ill after eating homemade lunches. Authorities are working to determine what specific food caused the illnesses. A volunteer at a local Buddhist Temple provided the newspaper with comments.

“Trang Le, a volunteer and member at the Tu Vien A Nan Buddhist Temple, 2120 SE 15th St. in Gainesville, said the food was prepared at a woman’s house to be delivered to other members of the Vietnamese community before she and others left town for the weekend,” according to the Gainesville Sun.

The health department has stated it received word of the illnesses on Nov. 4.

Anyone who handled or consumed food from the volunteer program and developes symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)