The Watauga County office of Appalachian District Health Department is working with the N.C. Division of Public Health to investigate a gastrointestinal illness outbreak among patrons of a local restaurant. There are five confirmed cases of salmonellosis and none have been hospitalized.

As of Friday, the Health Department had identified 9 individuals with signs and symptoms consistent with salmonellosis: diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. All share something in common — they ate at the same food establishment, Proper Restaurant, one to three days before becoming ill.

“We are still investigating to determine the source (or sources) of infection. We are also actively working with restaurant management to resolve this as soon as possible,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director. “We would like to thank the restaurant for their cooperation. The restaurant has been diligent and responsive during this process and we appreciate their commitment to the safety of their customers.”

The Health Department is asking anyone who ate food or drank beverages from Proper Restaurant (142 S Water Street, Boone, NC) on or after Saturday, May 17, and started having diarrhea within three days of eating or drinking to call the department at 828-264-6635. If individuals call after hours or on the weekend, they should stay on the line to be connected to our on-call staff.

“We want people to call the health department even if they have recovered so we can ask them questions in hopes of identifying the source of the contamination.” Lovette said.

To stop the further spread of the illness, the Health Department advises that meats and eggs be thoroughly cooked before eating, only consume products that have been pasteurized, and thoroughly wash hands after dealing with animals, before eating or preparing foods for others, and after using the restroom.

Ill people need to make sure they are staying hydrated and should seek medical care from their private doctor, urgent care or emergency room if their diarrhea and/or vomiting symptoms don’t improve.

SALMONELLOSIS (commonly called “Salmonella infection”) is an infection caused by bacteria called Salmonella. It is transmitted by food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal or person. Many animals carry Salmonella and it doesn’t make them sick. It can also be found in unpasteurized egg and milk products. It is commonly transmitted via the fecal-oral route, from one infected person to another. Symptoms may be mild and a person can continue to carry Salmonella for weeks after symptoms have subsided.

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and abdominal cramps 6 to 72 hours after infection.

– The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In some cases, the person must be treated with antibiotics.

– Salmonellosis affects all age groups. Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. Groups at greatest risk for severe or complicated disease include infants, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems.

– Salmonellosis is more common in the summer than winter.

– There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis.

– The best ways to prevent the spread of this illness is to avoid preparing food for others while ill, thoroughly cook meat and egg products, do not consume unpasteurized eggs and milk products, and hand washing, especially after using the bathroom and before handling or preparing food.