Press reports indicate that the Louisiana’s Department of Health is investigating a Salmonella outbreak in Caldwell Parish that has sickened more than 100 and may have contributed to one death. Local and state authorities trying to determine if the death of a 56-year-old man, Duane Reitzell, was connected to a mass illness.
Samantha Hartmann, press officer for the Louisiana Department of Health, said preliminary tests of samples have returned positive for Salmonella.
As of Thursday, 49 cases of a gastrointestinal illness were confirmed with 31 people hospitalized, the Department of Health reported. The ages of those with a confirmed illness range from 15 to 70.
State officials also reported Thursday samples taken from five people have tested positive for salmonella.
Sheriff Clay Bennett, who also is sick, said more than 100 residents have sought medical treatment. Bennett said workers at the sheriff’s office also fell ill Tuesday afternoon. He said employees ate jambalaya from a local softball fundraiser, but no one was certain about the origin of the illness. Bennett said the illness could have come from anything.
“Everybody is trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Drew Keahey, a Caldwell Parish farmer and president of the Tensas Basin Levee District board. “No bigger than we are, when there are 200 people in the hospital, everybody knows somebody who is sick. Keahey, a director of Homeland Bank, said more than 10 people left the bank Tuesday with sickness.
The Department of Health said in a short statement it had been “notified of a possible food-related gastrointestinal disease outbreak.” A disease surveillance specialist is investigating the incident.