After 15 Sickened, Health Officials Struggle To Pinpoint Source Of Salmonella In Oakland County

ROCHESTER (WWJ) – A popular Mexican chain restaurant remains closed as Oakland County health officials investigate more than a dozen cases of Salmonella.

Most of the 15 cases of Salmonella Saintpaul over the last six months, three in the last month, were associated with Rojo Mexican Bistro on Main Street in downtown Rochester.

However, Health Division of Oakland County chief of medical services Dr. Pamela Hackert says investigators can’t quite pinpoint the source.

“We’ve done 51 food samples and 60 environmental samples over several times, and it’s all been negative,” she told WWJ’s Zahra Huber.

Specifically, she said, what they’re dealing with is called Salmonella Saintpaul, which she says is a unique strain.

“There’s been two food-borne associated outbreaks with this, probably in the last decade,” Hackert said. “One had to do with jalapeños and one had to do with cucumbers; so it is very unusual.”

Hackert said no other Rojo restaurants have been linked to a single Salmonella case. The Rochester Rojo is the only restaurant that is closed in connection with the outbreak, and management there is cooperating,

While the investigation continues, Hackert said they’re looking into other restaurants that could be linked to the illnesses and also at other faculties that aren’t food-related.

Hackert said that since it appears that salmonella is being spread through personal contact, she wants to remind everyone to wash their hands thoroughly before every meal and after using the restroom.

Salmonella is a bacteria that gets into the intestines and causes illness, according to the OCHD. Most people infected develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4-7 days, and most people recover without treatment. Infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems are at a higher risk of developing severe illness.

Health officials offer the following tips reduce the risk of contracting salmonella:

• Handwashing is essential:  Wash hands thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing and eating food. Rub hands vigorously with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
• Wash hands after handling reptiles, birds, baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces.
• Clean and disinfect all surface areas if someone in the household or workplace has symptoms,
especially areas such as toilets, sinks, trash cans, doorknobs and faucet handles.
• Do not prepare food if you have symptoms and refrain from food preparation for at least three days
after symptoms have ended, or two weeks after onset of clinical symptoms, whichever is longer.

For more information, call OCHD’s Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533 or visit www.oakgov.com/health.

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