According to a new report, Public health officials could detect a Salmonella outbreak traced to a Utah outbreak by using open-ended interviews.

The outbreak patients who became ill from Oct. 1, 2023, through Jan. 9, 2024, all ate at the restaurant, which is not explicitly identified in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

The restaurant was not immediately identified as the source of the outbreak. During the initial investigation using routine interviews, patients were asked about potential exposures, including restaurants, but did not report a standard exposure.

Public health investigators found five patients with the outbreak strain but could not link them based on the first round of interviews. In a second round of interviews, using open-ended questions, the investigators identified 11 patients who had all dined at the same restaurant.

Testing found the outbreak strain of Salmonella Livingstone in multiple locations and in the food in the restaurant. The restaurant was closed and cleaned before reopening.

Six of the outbreak patients sought treatment at an emergency department, two of whom were hospitalized; no deaths were reported. Seven of the 11 patients received antibiotic therapy. One of the patients developed a blood infection. One restaurant employee tested positive for the outbreak strain.

The CDC reports that using open-ended interviews was key in identifying the outbreak.

“Incorporating open-ended interviews and purchase histories in foodborne illness outbreak investigations can expedite source identification and response,” according to the CDC report.

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