Salmonella Sickens Scores of Students at New Hampshire School

Over 50 middle school children in Salem, New Hampshire have been sickened with <"">Salmonella poisoning and students continue to fall ill, missing school because of the dangerous, sometimes deadly, pathogen. The unusually high incidence of absences prompted the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to start an investigation on Monday, said The Eagle Tribune.

Officials at Woodbury Middle School contacted the state health department, advising them that approximately 50 children were absent over illness. The health department confirmed, via stool sampling, that the students were infected with the Salmonella pathogen, said The Eagle Tribune. A total of 69 children were absent from school yesterday, according to the paper, an increase of 15 students since Monday.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain within 12 to 72 hours of contamination. Generally, the illness lasts a week, but, in some, hospitalization is required because the infection may have spread to the blood stream and other body sites, producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis. Without treatment, severe cases of Salmonellosis can result in death. Unfortunately, some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.

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.

While the investigation into the outbreak continues, it is known that, last week, all of the sick children attended an overnight camp—the Stone Environmental School—said Michael, Delahanty, the Salem Schools’ Superintendent, reported The Eagle Tribune. Health officials have been interviewing infected children and another team has been conducting investigations and interviews at the Stone Environmental School in an attempt to determine the outbreak’s origin, said The Eagle Tribune. One child was hospitalized and it is believed one other student was, as well, said state director of public health, Dr. Jose Montero.

Salmonella is the most frequently reported cause of food-related outbreaks of stomach illness worldwide and 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. A victim of Reiter’s Syndrome may have already been treated for the initial infection, and it can be weeks before the symptoms of Reiter’s Syndrome become apparent. Reiter’s Syndrome, which can plague its victims for months or years, is said to occur when reactive arthritis is evident and at least one other non-joint area, such as the eyes, skin, or muscles, is affected.

Salmonella poisoning is the culprit in the massive food borne contamination linked to the Peanut Corporation of America’s (PCA) peanuts and peanut products, the multi-state Salmonella poisoning outbreak linked to a variety of SunSprout Enterprises sprouts, tainted spices and other food products from the Union International Food Company, and the emerging and growing pistachio recall linked to Setton Pistachio, to name just some in recent days.

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