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28 Positive for Salmonella at Princeton University

May 15, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP The number of confirmed Salmonella victims at Princeton University has risen to 28, and the number could go higher as officials say more than 70 people have reported symptoms typical of Salmonella. The university is still awaiting lab tests that will confirm whether or not those illnesses are, in fact, Salmonella.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Salmonella bacteria sicken 40,000 people every year. Although the true number could be much higher, because it is estimated that for every case of Salmonella poisoning reported, two others are unreported. Salmonella causes fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days. In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. In rare cases, Salmonella can cause a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination.

Over the last year and half, hundreds of people were sickened by Salmonella-tainted Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Banquet Pot Pies sold by ConAgra foods. In the past couple of months, Malt-O-Meal Cereal has been blamed for 23 cases of Salmonella, while Honduran cantaloupe was recalled after in was linked to more than 50 cases of the disease. Smaller outbreaks of Salmonella are reported on a regular basis throughout the country.

The first case of Salmonella at Princeton was confirmed on April 29 through lab tests. So far, Salmonella has been confirmed in 20 students and eight staff members.  According to The Princeton Packet, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services had completed more than 85 “control interviews”. The control interviews consisted of health officials talking both to people on campus who fell ill and also those who didn’t to see if there were commonalties between the food case histories of the two groups.

The origin of the Princeton Salmonella outbreak has yet to be determined.  Last week, a spokesperson for the University said that its food services department has sent 20 categories of food served on campus to labs for testing. At the same time, the University also closed some of its food stations at the Frist Campus Center, suspended services of a range of food that might be linked to Salmonella and changed some food vendors.  This week, a salad bar and a Mexican food station at the center remain closed as a precaution.

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