Salmonella warning - The Daily Times

  • Sunday, September 9, 2012

    Shore residents more like to be infected; microbiologists look for links   

    PRINCESS ANNE (Sept. 9, 2012) - Eastern Shore residents are three times more likely to get sickened by salmonella than the rest of Maryland, and the area's poultry industry may be at least partly to blame, experts say.

    Salina Parveen - Daily Times_Amanda Rippen WhiteThe nine counties stretching from Cecil to Worcester averaged about 41 cases per 100,000 people in 2011, according to a Daily Times analysis of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene data. In all other Maryland counties, the average was 14 per 100,000.

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    Last year was no fluke. Annual rates vary little from year to year. Last year was no fluke. Annual rates vary little from year to year.

    xxxx Last year was no fluke. Annual rates vary little from year to year.

    To some extent, the difference can be explained by the Shore's smaller population, said Lucy Wilson, a state epidemiologist. It doesn't take as many cases to significantly boost the rate in a smaller county.

    For example, last year, rural Somerset County saw 13 cases, which yielded a rate of 49 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the 103 reports in Prince George's County, where there's far less elbow room, led to a rate of just 11.

    Still, Wilson said, the higher rates on the Shore can't be accounted for by math alone.

    "Are there differences in risk in different places? We don't have an answer for that," she said. But "there are environmental factors that may be related that aren't completely understood."

    One of the most common causes of food poisoning, salmonella is a nasty bug that triggers diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours after exposure and lasting for up to a week. Nationwide, it's blamed for 1.4 million illnesses and 500 deaths a year.

    The bacteria's preferred home is in animal digestive tracts.

    It can spread to just about anything, though. Recent national outbreaks have been traced to a variety of tainted sources, such as mangoes, cantaloupe and even hedgehogs.

    The biggest cause of illnesses is eating foods contaminated with animal feces. And the type of salmonella that causes the most human illnesses, the variant known by the scientific name enteritidis, is most commonly found on laced chicken, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "You have a lot of people who are exposed through occupational exposure," he said.

    Reviewing antibiotics

    They may come into contact through touching chicken feces directly or breathing it in, Oscar said. Then, those workers may bring salmonella home to their families on their clothes and bodies.

    Bill Satterfield, executive director of the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., said it is "irresponsible to try and make a correlation to the chicken indu