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Salmonella outbreak study still underway
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The results of a study on the source of the recent salmonella outbreak should be available in a week.

According to Vernon Goins, public information officer for the state Division of Public Health's East Metro Health District, the analysis of both the lab results and the results of a survey of 150 individuals who attended Sherman's Last Burning should be completed by Nov. 8.

The final account of those reporting symptoms of salmonella is 62, he said. Twelve cases have been confirmed as salmonella.

While the health department is not drawing any conclusions until the results of the study are in, it is believed that Sherman's Last Burning - a weekend-long barbecue cook-off from Oct.12-14 is the source of the outbreak.

 The event featured 15 food vendors including the Covington Lions Club who sold barbecue plates to the public. Other food vendors sold funnel cakes, popcorn shrimp and other assorted festival fare.

Goins said scientists with the Georgia Public Health laboratory are currently looking at stool samples from the confirmed salmonella cases for commonalities between the species of salmonella.

The statistical analysis of the surveys will look for commonalities among those reporting salmonella poisoning such as whether they attended the event on Thursday, Friday or Saturday as well as specifically what they ate and from which vendors.

According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, salmonella is usually transmitted to humans through the consumption of foods contaminated with animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal and are often of animal origin such as beef, poultry, milk and eggs. However all food, including vegetables may become contaminated.

While many raw foods of animal origin are frequently contaminated, thorough cooking does kill salmonella. Additionally food may become contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler who forgot to wash his/her hands after using the bathroom.

Salmonella infections usually last five to seven days and often do not require treatment unless the individual becomes severely dehydrated or the infection spreads from the intestines.