Salmonella outbreak in Newton County allegedly caused by 1 caterer

As many as 70 people became sick and four were hospitalized for three days after a salmonella outbreak in Newton County, authorities said.

An investigation has determined that food provided by Plain Nuts Catering & Deli played a part in most, if not all, of the salmonella cases, according to a press release.

The outbreak was first reported May 4, according to a news release from the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments.

Piedmont Newton Hospital’s Dr. Norris Little told Channel 2 Action News that it’s been over a week since a patient with salmonella symptoms has been admitted.

“It’s very unusual to see a high number of cases in a community for salmonella,” Little told Channel 2.

Many of those affected have sought medical treatment with their primary physician or through urgent care centers, officials said.

Most of the cases associated with the outbreak are linked to a private function that occurred in Newton County on April 28, GNR Health spokeswoman Summer Nix said. The event was invitation only, and she said the people who attended have been contacted.

The food was catered by Plain Nuts Catering & Deli, and all food and drink items along with other exposure possibilities were investigated, Nix said.

A separate event catered by the company on May 15 also led to Salmonella cases, Nix said. At least one person who attended neither of these events also got Salmonella, but the person had consumed food prepared by the same caterer beforehand.

The catering facility has closed until the full investigation is concluded, Nix said.

What is Salmonella?

“This outbreak does not appear to be linked to the nationwide Salmonella outbreaks that have recently been in the media,” she said. “Initial testing of the individuals involved in this outbreak have identified Salmonella Enteritidis (as) the bacteria that is making individual(s) ill. Because the testing process can be lengthy, we are still waiting for final results on many individuals who have been tested.”

Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those with salmonella often develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 72 hours of infection. In rare cases, patients may be hospitalized due to severe diarrhea.

The illness typically lasts four to seven days, with most people recovering without treatment, the CDC said.

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