Update on Food-Borne Illness Outbreak


Sumter County, Ala. At least a dozen people are still hospitalized in west Alabama after falling ill last weekend following a funeral. In all, people from 9 states have been hospitalized because of the outbreak in York. Officials with the Alabama Department of Health say that at least 30 people were hospitalized in serious condition due to the illness.

More than 100 people attended the funeral last Saturday at Eastern Star Baptist Church in York. Hours after the service is when the first patients turned up at the town's hospital.

"We actually started receiving people early Sunday morning. They came in around 1 AM," says Gus Weiss, who is a registered nurse and supervisor for the emergency room at Hill Hospital. "I think our youngest person was one and our oldest person was about 64 or 68."

Since then, at least 60 victims of the illness have been treated at Hill Hospital.

"This is not your typical upset stomach where you feel that if you just burp one time I can feel great," says Weiss. "This thing presents with a sharp stomach pain. Very uncomfortable, diarrhea, nausea, as some say you're going from both ends, and there's a lot of it. So, that's almost your key right there."

In a conversation via phone Wednesday afternoon, an official from the funeral home which conducted Saturday's service told Newscenter 11 that at least one employee from the funeral home was hospitalized from what were thought to be symptoms related to the outbreak. She also said that earlier in the day Wednesday another employee for the funeral home passed. She stressed that at that time there was no evidence that his death had anything to do with the outbreak. Instead, preliminary information revealed that he possibly died due to a heart attack.

According to some residents in York, what happened last Saturday is affecting how they eat now.

"Before you eat you always pray and ask God to bless the food because you never know what's in the food, but God always knows," says William Spencer.

As for the outbreak, preliminary tests from the Alabama Bureau of Clinical Laboratories have come back positive for salmonella.

Aside from Alabama, some people who attended the funeral have since been hospitalized in: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Oklahoma.


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