Salmonella Sickens Over 20 in Tennessee

Over 20 people have been sickened by the dangerous, sometimes fatal, <"">Salmonella pathogen after eating food at or from a Tennessee barbeque restaurant that is operated by state Senator Reginald Tate (Democrat-Memphis), reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Preliminary tests indicate Salmonella poisoning, according to the local Health Department.

The A&R Barbecue at 3721 Hickory Hill is operated by Senator Tate and his wife, Lashun Pollard-Tate, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Pollard-Tate is Andrew Pollard’s daughter. The senior Pollard owns all four A&R Barbeque restaurants in the Memphis area, said the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which noted that the three other A&R Barbeque locations have not been closed, citing store managers.

The Hickory Hill A&R Barbeque voluntarily shut down on July 25 so that the Health Department can investigate the outbreak, said Nicole Lacey-Hall, a Health Department representative. “We have sent food samples to the health department lab, but the tests have not come back,” Lacey-Hall said, quoted the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “We have recorded some preliminary reports of salmonella, but we haven’t verified that yet,” Lacey-Hall added.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial food borne illnesses. Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, such as persons with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy.

Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis. Initial symptoms usually occur within the first eight to 72 hours following contamination. Additional symptoms may include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

The Health Department began receiving complaints on July 14 from the Hickory Hill A&R Barbeque customers, said the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which explained that most of the people who fell ill had attended the Harston family reunion at Shelby Farms on July 10 and 11. The event was catered by A&R Barbeque; the others who were sickened ate at the restaurant. Some of those who became ill required hospitalization, said the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Salmonella is usually found in food contaminated with animal feces and is a group of bacteria that passes from the feces of people or animals to other people or animals, causing contamination when food is improperly stored or handled and when preparers do not wash their hands or sanitize implements involved in food storage. Salmonella poisoning can lead to Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination.

Some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.

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