South Heartland District Health Department along with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is investigating an outbreak of Salmonellosis associated with the Blue Hill Care Center in Webster County. To date there have been 17 confirmed cases and 2 probable or suspected cases reported in residents, staff or visitors. Four residents were temporarily hospitalized after showing symptoms. A visitor is still hospitalized. Blue Hill Care Center is cooperating fully with the investigation to help identify the source and eradicate the issue.

Salmonellosis is caused by an infection with bacteria called Salmonella which live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. It is usually spread to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but other foods, including vegetables, can become contaminated. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella.

Salmonella can also be spread through contact with pets and pet feces, including birds and reptiles (lizards, turtles, snakes). People should always wash their hands immediately after handling an animal or touching its environment, even if the animal appears healthy.

Symptoms of Salmonellosis include fever, diarrhea and intestinal cramps. Symptoms usually appear 12 to 72 hours after a person has been infected and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. While most people recover without treatment, severe symptoms or spread of infection to the blood stream can lead to hospitalization.