Salmonella outbreak affects local hospital - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Salmonella outbreak affects local hospital

February 15, 2007

Tifton - A nationwide salmonella outbreak was linked to Peter Pan Peanut Butter and it's production plant in Sylvester.  One South Georgia hospital is gearing up for patients who may come in worried that they are experiencing salmonella-like symptoms.

More than ten people have shown up at Tift Regional Medical Center with symptoms consistent with salmonella poisoning.  "We'll ask them if they've had peanut butter exposure, any risk because we know it's in the community," says Dave Ferner, Emergency Room Medical Director at Tift Regional Medical Center.

Doctor says it's common to see patients with these symptoms every day.  "We see folks with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea symptoms every day. It's just something that's very common here."

But of the people claiming to have symptoms, two of them showed up with their jars of Peter Pan Peanut Butter in hand.

Each had the product number 2111, which has been recalled.  "So suspicion gets a little higher when you have something like that," Ferner adds.

Doctors will send off stool samples to determine if they do indeed have salmonella and if it can be linked to the peanut butter.  "We specifically ask them to type it and see if there is any common thread between what they're detecting in the peanut butter and what these patients have because there are different sub types."

Doctors at Tift Regional Medical Center will follow up with all patients who come in with diarrhea, dehydration, and nausea for the next 48 hours.

So what is salmonella?

It's bacteria, microscopic living creatures that pass from the feces of animals or people to other people or animals.

The bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.

The illness usually lasts four  to seven days.

Most people recover without treatment, but 600 Americans die from salmonellosis each year.

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