UPDATE: Salmonella outbreak tops 100 cases; source still unknown

On the Border restaurant reopened Monday

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

Updated: October 19, 2012, 6:30 PM

 

Health officials are still trying to determine the source of a salmonella outbreak in Vancouver that has sickened more than 100 people — and counting.

Clark County Public Health reported 38 confirmed and 75 probable cases of salmonella as of Thursday afternoon, with calls continuing to trickle in as people hear about the outbreak, said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer.

“I’m not sure 113 is the end of it,” he said Friday morning.

By Friday afternoon, health officials said the total case count had reached 114 with 38 confirmed and 76 probable.

Health officials are still interviewing people who reported symptoms after eating at On the Border Mexican restaurant between Sept. 20 and Oct. 8, when officials closed the eatery to stop the spread of salmonella.

After shutting down the restaurant, county health inspectors spent the day taking samples from food and surfaces to try to determine the source of the outbreak. Melnick expected to have those test results this week, but he said Friday the results won’t be back from the lab until next week.

Even then, the results may reveal only what foods and surfaces were contaminated with the bacteria. They may not pinpoint the original source, Melnick said.

“Right now, it’s not our priority to say it’s this or that” because the restaurant has been thoroughly cleaned and potentially contaminated food has been thrown away, Melnick said. “The priority is to identify people and get them the proper care.”

Most of the salmonella cases tied to the restaurant are among adult customers; five food handlers were also sickened. Eight people with salmonella have been hospitalized. As of Thursday, seven of the eight had been released from the hospital, Melnick said.

The restaurant reopened Monday afternoon.


Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.