2nd bacteria ID'd in illnesses linked to jambalaya fundraiser


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 2nd bacteria ID'd in illnesses linked to jambalaya fundraiser

According to the Department of Health, 49 cases of gastrointestinal illness are confirmed in Columbia, La., Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Thirty-one people have been hospitalized with the food poisoning. More than 300 plates of jambalaya tainted with salmonella were sold during a fundraiser for a girls' softball team in Caldwell Parish Monday.

MONROE, La. — A second bacteria contributed to a mass food poisoning in Caldwell Parish, according to state health officials. 

In addition to the salmonella already found in samples submitted to the state, Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium commonly found on raw meat and poultry, has been identified. 

"When we got the samples, we continued to test for toxins," said Parham Jaberi, assistant state health officer. "These are organisms that, when they are ingested, they release a toxin that gets you sick. What that means is that people usually become sicker in fewer hours after eating foods."

Jaberi said many people became sick within 12 hours of eating jambalaya prepared for a local softball fundraiser. A high majority of the people who ate the meat and rice dish became ill.

As of Friday, 125 cases of a gastrointestinal illness were confirmed, with 37 people hospitalized. The ages of those with a confirmed illness range from 15 to 72. 

Clostridium perfringens produces a toxin that causes gastrointestinal illness and presents many of the same symptoms as salmonella.

"Usually these symptoms are more severe, which could explain why some of the people in the community are really going to the hospital," Jaberi said. 

He said it also explains the fact that so many people who had the food became ill so quickly. 

The Department of Health is continuing to test for the presence of additional organisms but does not anticipate any new findings. 

Some of the ingredients in the jambalaya also are being tested individually. Jaberi said he does not anticipate results being available until the middle of next week. 

He urged people to keep following safety guidelines, to dispose of any remaining jambalaya in their homes and to not consume the dish or any items that might have been in contact with it. 

The fundraiser was in Columbia, a town of about 400 and the Caldwell Parish seat.

Follow Ashley Mott on Twitter: @ashleymaymott

By: USA TODAY

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