Health officials offer 4 best tips to avoid salmonella infection

Oakland County Health Division investigates 15 cases of Salmonella Saintpaul

PONTIAC, Mich. – Officials are investigating 15 cases of Salmonella Saintpaul in Oakland County, the Health Division said Friday.

As health officials try to determine the source, a Rochester restaurant has temporarily shut down.

Rojo Mexican Bistro on Main Street closed its doors and posted a sign in the window, alerting customers of the situation. The Health Division called it a proactive move.

Lots of people flocked to Rojo on Friday night. The restaurant is known as a popular weekend spot.
Would-be guests were greeted with a sign announcing a plumbing problem, but it's a bit more involved than that.

"We have been very carefully doing an ongoing investigation that has included doing multiple environmental testings at various facilities and Rojo facility is one that has come up," said Dr. Pamela Hackert, chief of medical services at the Oakland County Health Division.

This strain of salmonella is an unusual one, according to the Health Division. It was last associated with an outbreak due to tainted jalapeños. Despite dozens of food and environmental tests, health officials cannot officially pinpoint a source, but many of the cases were associated with Rojo.

The owner of Rojo said the restaurant has gotten its employees tested and will be doing a deep clean as a precaution.

Cases of Salmonella Saintpaul have been identified in other Michigan counties as well, along with Ohio and Illinois, according to a news release.

Salmonella is a bacterium that gets into the intestines and causes illness.

Most people who are infected develop diarrhea, fever and cramps about 12 to 72 hours after the bacteria enters the body. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment, health officials said.

Infants, elderly people and those with impaired immune systems are at a higher risk of developing severe illness, the release said.

“The ongoing investigation suggests that the salmonella is being spread through personal contact,” Hackert said. “Residents are reminded to wash their hands thoroughly before every meal and after using the restroom.”

Health officials offered the following tips to reduce the risk of contracting salmonella:

• Handwashing is essential and one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection. Wash hands thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers and before preparing and eating food. Rub hands vigorously with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds.

• Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles, birds or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces.

• Clean and disinfect all surface areas if someone in the household or workplace has symptoms, especially areas such as toilets, sinks, trash cans, doorknobs and faucet handles.

• Do not prepare food if you have symptoms, and refrain from food preparation for at least three days after symptoms have ended, or two weeks after onset of clinical symptoms -- whichever is longer.

For more information, contact the Health Division’s Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or visit this website.

About the Authors: