Jambalaya linked to Louisiana foodborne illness outbreak

by Erica Shaffer
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CALDWELL PARISH, La. – State health officials in Louisiana are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens that sickened 158 people and possibly killed one person. The agency has linked the outbreak to jambalaya that was served as part of a fundraising event in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana.

The department said health officials are working with the pathologist responsible for the autopsy and the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine if post-mortem testing can be performed by the CDC to determine if the death can be attributed to the outbreak.

Forty people were hospitalized, although most of the case patients have been discharged, according to the health department.

The department also is testing samples of the jambalaya that is believed to be the source of the outbreak. So far, 19 food samples have been tested, and five tested positive for Salmonella, the department said. Results for the remaining 14 samples are pending, and state health officials are sending the samples to the CDC for further testing. Jambalaya is a signature dish of Louisiana. Ingredients vary by recipe, but consist mainly of meat, seafood and vegetables mixed with rice.

The food safety investigation revealed that C. perfringens, a bacterium commonly found on raw meat and poultry, caused some of the illnesses in addition to Salmonella. Dr. Parham Jaberi, assistant state health officer, said the presence of C. perfringens may explain why so many people were sickened and became ill so quickly.

Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. Health officials are urging residents to contact their doctor or healthcare provider if these symptoms exist. Symptoms, treatment and guidance remain the same for C. perfringens infections.

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