The Huron County General Health District is investigating six confirmed cases of salmonella after a number of area residents recently began to experience intense abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Angie Smith, epidemiologist for the health department, said health officials interviewed affected people and the common thread is the local restaurant Casa Fiesta.
“We are investigating whether or not the illness is related to the food, the food handling, a food worker or a combination of these,” Smith said.
The health department inspected the restaurant Thursday morning and took food samples to send to the Ohio Department of Health for testing.
The health department has been in contact with local hospitals, bordering health departments and the restaurant owner. The restaurant closed voluntarily, threw out all prepared food and began sanitizing all equipment, Health Commissioner Tim Hollinger said. The restaurant will re-open today.
“They came yesterday and took some samples,” Ramon Ornelas, owner of the restuarant said. He said the entire inventory of food was disposed of and every inch of the restaurant has been disinfected. “It is 100 times better to lose inventory than to have customers get sick,” he said. “We’re doing everything to make sure it is all safe.”
Health officials said Huron County had 11 people with gastrointestinal complaints at local hospital emergency rooms on Monday. Huron County averages about 10 gastrointestinal complaint emergency room visits per day for this time of year.
Smith added “because there were 11 people with severe abdominal pain and cramping in one 24-hour period, as well as calls from private physicians regarding patients seen in their offices with similar complaints, we started looking for a common thread.”
In addition to the 11 people with abdominal pain at Huron County hospitals Monday, there were three people with abdominal pain on Sunday and one person with abdominal pain on Saturday. In all, 22 people went to the hospital with abdominal pain, cramping, vomiting and diarrhea from Saturday through Monday, health officials said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, salmonella symptoms affect people about 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized due to severe dehydration. Only if the infection spreads from the intestines would the patient need to be prescribed antibiotics.