According to a “News Flash” that Kenosha County Division of Health (“KCDH”) posted on May 21, 2015, an outbreak investigation was in progress with regard to “individuals with gastrointestinal illness and exposure to Supermercado Los Corrales. As of this time, more than 60 ill persons have been identified.” The KCDH further stated as follows:
- To-date Salmonella with a matching DNA fingerprint has been found in five case patients. Additional stool sample are currently being tested and the nuber of confirmed cases is expected to increase as those results become available.
- Based on the interviews that have been conducted, the source of the outbreak appears to be pork carnitas sold at Supermercado Los Corrales. Testing of food from Supermercado Los Corrales is currently in progress.
- The meat and food preparation area of Supermercado Los Corrales is temporarily closed while the investigation is ongoing[.]
The investigation into the outbreak began when KCDH received a report of a stool sample that had tested positive for Salmonella. The food implicated as the source of the outbreak is believed to have been purchased over Mother’s Day weekend, May 9 and 10, 2015.
As reported in a news story posted on Fox6Now.com, “dozens in the area had the same complaints” about having become sick “after they had eaten food from the same grocery store during the same time period.” Mark Melotik of KCDH is quoted in the story as stating, “Any time you have numerous families, it potentially is large. We are dealing with over a couple dozen people calling in that they are ill.”
Salmonella is an enteric bacterium, which means that it lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. Salmonella bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with human or animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Contaminated foods are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but all foods, including vegetables, may become contaminated. An infected food handler who neglects to wash his or her hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom may also contaminate food.
Once in the lumen of the small intestine, the bacteria penetrate the epithelium, multiply, and enter the blood within 24 to 72 hours. As few as 15-20 cells of Salmonella bacteria can cause salmonellosis or a more serious typhoid-like fever. Variables such as the health and age of the host, and virulence differences among the serotypes, affect the nature and extent of the illness. Infants, elderly, hospitalized, and immune suppressed persons are the populations that are the most susceptible to disease, and suffer the most severe symptoms.
The acute symptoms of Salmonella gastroenteritis include the sudden onset of nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea and mucous over a period of days. There is no real cure for Salmonella infection, except treatment of the symptoms. Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydration, often with intravenous fluids.
Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. A small number of persons who are infected with Salmonella will go on to develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called Reiter’s syndrome or reactive arthritis. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to treat. Antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in whether or not the person later develops arthritis.
The plaintiffs purchased pork carnitas at Supermercado Los Carroles on May 9, 2015, and they consumed the purchased food at home that same day. The following evening, May 10, the plaintiffs began to feel sick with nausea and abdominal pain, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, body pain, and other symptoms consistent with a Salmonella infection.
The symptoms worsened over the next two days, causing significant pain, suffering, and worry. When it appeared that the children—Elizabeth, Andrew, and Jacob—were not getting better, the three were taken to St. Catherine’s Medical Center for evaluation and treatment. A stool sample obtained from Jacob ultimately tested positive for Salmonella.
Because of her continuing illness, Elizabeth received follow-up car on May 14 from her regular pediatrician, Dr. Jaya Iver, at Kenosha Pediatrics. Dr. Iyer advised that Andrew did not need to be brought in for treatment unless his conditioned worsened, which it fortunately did not. For his part, Jacob received follow-up care on May 12 and 13 from Dr. Dragos Nanul at Kenosha Medical Center Clinic. Busy caring for his children, Kenneth did not seek medical treatment.
Kenshoa County Division of Health contacted the plaintiffs, speaking to Kenneth, to discuss the purchase and consumption of food at Supermercado Los Corrales and subsequent illnesses linked to the Salmonella outbreak. The Division of Health had also been notified that Jacob had tested positive for Salmonella, the same serotype that had infected other outbreak victims.
Although they have begun to feel better, as of May 25, the plaintiffs have not fully recovered, and each continues to suffer abdominal pain and discomfort, loose stools, headaches, and body aches, all attributable to consumption of the pork carnitas and resulting Salmonella infections.
Salmonella: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.