montanaCountyBreakdownSmallState and local public health authorities are working together to investigate a cluster of Salmonella cases with cases in Cascade, Fergus, Flathead, Gallatin, Lewis & Clark, Park, Musselshell and Yellowstone Counties in Montana.

So far eleven confirmed Salmonella cases with identical genetic markers and two suspected cases have been identified. Ill persons are being interviewed to obtain information about foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before their illness began.

At this time, the investigation is ongoing. “Every effort is being made to identify a common source quickly and to protect consumers from any products or practices that may be unsafe,” says Dana Fejes, foodborne epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

Anyone experiencing the symptoms above is encouraged to contact their health care provider.

Many of these types of outbreaks are foodborne-related, so Fejes reminds Montanans to always wash vegetables and cook meats appropriately. “Many people may be harvesting garden vegetables and enjoying burgers this time of year so please wash your vegetables and cook meats to proper temperatures to avoid foodborne diseases,” Fejes adds.

Consumers and retailers should always follow safe produce handling recommendations.

  • Wash
    • Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing produce.
    • Wash with soap and hot water, rinse and then sanitize with bleach solution (1 tablespoon per gallon) any cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
  • Prepare
    • Wash all produce including those harvested from your own garden thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking.
    • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
    • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on produce before preparing and eating.
    • Cut ready to eat foods before meat and poultry.
    • Cook meats to proper temperatures (refer to package inserts) and use a food thermometer.
  • Store
    • Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked produce as soon as possible, or within 2 hours.
    • Store produce away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.