By Jean Cole
Some of the 12 people admitted to Athens-Limestone Hospital this week after being stricken with salmonellosis remain hospitalized, an official said Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the number of lab-confirmed cases of the illness has increased from eight to 27, and the estimated number of people seen at the hospital for the infection now stands at 50, said Micheal Estremera, infection-control and microbiology supervisor at the Athens hospital.
The initial number of those hospitalized was six, and the hospital said most of those were being treated with intravenous fluids due to diarrhea, an official said.
“We have seen 50 people in the emergency department associated with the outbreak,” Estremera said. “We have had 12 people admitted and some are still in the hospital. We have 27 cultures presumptively identified as salmonella, but have not gotten any confirmations from the state as of this afternoon.”
“The specimens we are testing are stool, but specimens have not been collected on everyone,” she said. “I talked with the state lab yesterday and there was no update, and I speak at least daily with the area health department to update them. We have had no new cases come into the emergency department today associated with the outbreak as of this afternoon.
Dozens of people in Limestone and other counties fell ill Saturday and Sunday complaining of diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Some of them sought treatment from Athens-Limestone Hospital and other medical facilities, officials said. Hospital officials and victims believe they contracted salmonellosis, or salmonella bacterial infection, from food at the annual bean dinner fundraiser hosted Oct. 4 by the Foundation on Aging at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Athens. However, the source of the infection has not been confirmed. The Alabama Department of Public Health’s Epidemiology Division has been notified of the illnesses and is investigating.