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Health department closes Salmonella investigation
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COVINGTON, Ga. - The Newton County Health Department has closed its investigation into an outbreak of Salmonella, according to a news release provided by the department. 

The outbreak was associated with private events and restaurant meals provided by Plan Nuts Catering & Deli, according to the release. The investigation included interviewing ill individuals, analysis of survey results completed by ill and well event attendees, and investigation in the catering facility was conducted.  

According to the investigation results, one event statistically implicated chicken as the source of illness, however the source of the Salmonella could not be identified. 

"In addition, samples of chicken and meal items containing chicken tested negative for Salmonella," according to the release. "It is often difficult to pinpoint specific foods as the cause of an outbreak.

"Between 1998 and 2016, there were 17,990 outbreaks in the United States associated with food and water where the source of disease transmission was never found (CDC’s National Outbreak Reporting System Dashboard, “Unknown Food”)."

There is no indication of an ongoing threat of Salmonella related to the outbreak and the last exposure date reported was May 11. 

"Plain Nuts Catering & Deli has cooperated fully with this investigation," according to the release. "On May 15, out of an abundance of caution, the facility closed to allow time for a focused on-site training as well as screening of all full-time and part-time food service staff.  In addition, the facility has followed the Health Department’s recommendations of conducting a full enhanced cleaning of the facility prior to re-opening. Environmental Health staff will be meeting with the facility before re-opening to ensure all areas of the kitchen have been cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the Georgia Food Code and with the Environmental Health Department’s guidance."

The Health Department investigates all reports of illness on an ongoing basis and encourages individuals to report illness to allow for prompt investigation. Illnesses can be reported by calling the department's Foodborne Illness Hotline at 770-339-4BUG. The focus of these investigations is to ensure that ill individual are educated and mitigation efforts can be put in place to limit the spread of illness. 

If you have questions regarding your health, please contact your physician. If you have general questions about Salmonella or foodborne illness, please contact the department office at 770-339-4260 and ask to speak with the Epidemiologist on call.