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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

UPDATE – The Alamosa Salmonella Flush Begins Today – Claim Filed on Behalf of Young Resident – 276 Now Sickened

Ann Imse, Rocky Mountain News reports that the “Big flush begins today in Alamosa.”  Although the flushing seems dramatic, there still seems to be no understanding of the source of the Salmonella in the first place.

Although she reports that “chlorinated water will rush through 50 miles of pipes beginning today to try to cleanse salmonella from the municipal water system,” there still seems to be questions as to whether this will actually solve the problem. As she reported: “Officials don’t know how or where salmonella entered the water system, which is an unusual deep-well system. It has not required disinfection until now.”  There were reports that there was no concern about employees or terrorism as the cause.

Ms. Imse also reported on the filing of the first of what will likely be many claims against the city:

Meanwhile, a Seattle attorney has filed a claim against the city of Alamosa on behalf of a child . . . who he says suffered severe gastrointestinal illness and was hospitalized for five days because of the salmonella outbreak. Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who specializes in food poisoning cases, said today that when a Colorado city is sued, damages are capped at $150,000 for any injured person or a maximum of $600,000 for all injured parties.

Ann Imse’s story in the Rocky Mountain News, "Water contamination hits home," says it all about how important safe water is for people – especially children:

For Jenn and Ray Cook, this city’s salmonella crisis began March 9 with a terrifying sound. Their 7-month-old son woke up screaming at 3 a.m. with bloody diarrhea and a fever of 103 – just weeks after his second heart surgery. San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center quickly decided the fluffy-haired baby needed special care. "They Flight-for-Lifed him to Children’s Hospital in Denver," said his mother, Jenn, 28. Jordan, who is missing the left ventricle of his heart and faces one more operation, was given intravenous fluids and oxygen. Children’s doctors then spent five days trying to figure out what was wrong with him. Finally, tests hit on the answer: Salmonella poisoning. He was one of the first cases. Baby Jordan is recovered now, to his parents’ relief. On Wednesday, he was smiling broadly and sporting pale blue socks to match his shirt.

About Salmonella Typhimurium – In 2005 a total of 36,184 Salmonella isolates were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national rate of reported Salmonella isolates in 2005 was 12.2 per 100,000 based on 2005 census population estimates. Salmonella serotype Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) has been the most commonly isolated serotype since 1997. In 2005 there were 6,982 human cases of S. Typhimurium reported to the CDC. S. Typhimurium is also the most common serotype detected in clinical samples obtained from bovine sources, and from non-clinical samples from chicken sources. A large proportion of S. Typhimurium isolates are resistant to antimicrobial drugs. In a 2003 national survey, 45% were resistant to one or more drugs and 26% had a five-drug resistance pattern characteristic of a single phage type, DT104.  (REF: DHHS, CDC, 2005 Salmonella Annual Summary).

Surveillance for waterborne-disease outbreaks–United States, 1993-1994.

The outbreak in Missouri that was caused by Salmonella serotype Typhimurium resulted in illness in an estimated total of 625 persons, including 15 persons who were hospitalized and seven who died. The most likely source for the outbreak was the larger of two storage towers, which was inadequately protected from wild-bird droppings. S. Typhimurium was isolated from the sediment of one of the towers, and tap water was positive for fecal coliforms.

  • EJ

    For crying out loud, no one has died as a result of this salmonella outbreak and people are recovering! It takes one ambulance-chasing, money-hungry attorney to stir up a hornet’s nest and pretty soon we’ll have plenty of people jumping on the bandwagon looking for a free handout.
    There was a person who went to SLV Regional Medical Center who did not have salmonella but wanted to have it so they could sue the City of Alamosa. Who’s to say the guy did not deliberately drink the water after being advised to drink only bottled water, in hopes he would get salmonella? How many dishonest people are out there looking to make a fast buck because they’re too lazy to make an honest living. Let me tell you, in this particular geographic area there are plenty of dishonest people ready to jump on the bandwagon! The cost of frivolous lawsuits gets passed on to those of us hard-working, tax-paying honest people.
    This was a freak incident that happened and it is quite frankly too early to start placing blame. I seriously doubt the City of Alamosa maliciously and intentionally set out to taint the city’s water supply with salmonella! The fact is they acted quickly to rectify the situation and they should not be liable. This situation has been a hardship for the entire community, whether or not each individual has gotten sick. How does does such a frivolous lawsuit build our community back up after dealing with a stressful situation we have endured for the past couple weeks and will contnue to deal with in the coming weeks.
    Justice will prevail when greedy and dishonest people have to answer to God and account for their actions on Judgment Day.