NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. — Health officials in Newton County are trying to pinpoint the source of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 70 people and required four to be hospitalized for days.
"It's very unusual to see such a high number of cases in one community for salmonella. Patients presented with significantly high fever and diarrheal illness,” said Piedmont Newton Chief Medical Officer Dr. Norris Little.
Patients first began showing up at the hospital in late April and the numbers steadily increased over the coming weeks.
"That means that there is some commonality with the way they contracted the illness," Little said.
The outbreak comes at the heels of two multistate outbreaks of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce and eggs.
Little told Channel 2's Tom Regan the Newton County outbreak could be indirectly associated with the E. coli outbreaks, but that connection is unlikely.
"The possible sources would be, you know, everything from groceries to restaurants to farms. I mean the sources are just enormous,” Little said.
As part of their investigation, health officials will speak with patients and attempt to connect the dots.
"They will interview people to find out where they have been, what they have done to try to nail down the source,” Little said.
People who live in Newton County said the outbreak has them more concerned about where and what they eat.
"There's a lot of things we could be getting sick from, and salmonella should not be one of them,” Marzilla Harris said.
Little said it's unknown if the outbreak has peaked. He said one encouraging sign is that it has been over a week since a patient showing salmonella symptoms, showed up in the emergency room.
Cox Media Group