Not just salmonella: Second bacteria ID'd in mass North Louisiana illness

A second bacteria contributed to the mass food poisoning in Caldwell Parish according to Dr. Parham Jaberi, assistant state health officer.

In addition to the salmonella already found in stool samples submitted to the state, Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium commonly found on raw meat and poultry, has been identified.

MORE: Louisiana salmonella outbreak sickens hundreds, traced to softball fundraiser

"When we got the samples, we continued to test for toxins," Jaberi said. "These are organisms that, when they are ingested, they release a toxin that gets you sick. What that means is that people usually become sicker in fewer hours after eating foods."

Jaberi said information from the community related that many were sick within 12 hours of eating jambalaya prepared for a local softball fundraiser. A high majority of the people who ate the dish became ill.

As of Friday, 125 cases of a gastrointestinal illness were confirmed with 37 people hospitalized. The ages of those with a confirmed illness range from 15 to 72. 

Clostridium perfringens produces a toxin that causes gastrointestinal illness and presents many of the same symptoms as salmonella.

"Usually these symptoms are more severe, which could explain why some of the people in the community are really going to the hospital," Jaberi said.

He said it also explains the fact that so many people who had the food became ill so quickly.

The Department of Health is continuing to test for the presence of additional organisms but does not anticipate any new findings.

Some of the ingredients in the jambalaya also are being tested individually. Jaberi said the processing of food particles will take longer, and he does not anticipate results being available until the middle of next week.

He said it is important for people to keep following safety guidelines, to dispose of any remaining jambalaya in their homes and to not consume the dish or any items that might have been in contact with it.

The sick should drink plenty of fluids to combat dehydration and visit their primary care doctor if symptoms persist for more than three days.

Over the weekend, residents should contact the department's after-hours number at 1-800-256-2748 with questions or concerns.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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