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M. Brandon Smith
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Arby's Linked To Salmonella Outbreak In Valdosta, Georgia

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A few short months ago in Valdosta, Georgia, the Georgia Public Health Laboratory (GPHL) received eight new Salmonella Montevideo claims from the South Georgia Medical Center between August 28, 2006 and September 5, 2006. While ordinarily these 8 cases might not seem like a reason for great concern, it raised the suspicions of the GPHL and Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health because Lowndes County typically only reports approximately 5 cases of Salmonella Montevideo per year. As a result of this sharp increase in Salmonella Montevideo claims over this period, a questionnaire was developed to help determine the extent of the outbreak and to see if their was a common source.

The investigation revealed 72 new cases of Salmonella Montevideo had been reported between August 21, 2006 and September 5, 2006. The investigation also discovered the common source of this Salmonella outbreak was from a new meat slicer utilized at a local fast food establishment in Valdosta: Arby’s.

According to the Valdostadailytimes.com:

Following interviews of 52 of the 72 patients, the investigation revealed that a common fast food restaurant in Valdosta was the source of the outbreak strain. Of those interviewed, 82 percent reported that they had most likely eaten at the restaurant in the seven days before symptoms began, and the risk of being infected rose 1.5 times for those who had eaten at the restaurant. On Oct. 6, Tad Williams, Environmental Health director for the South Georgia Health District, was notified by investigators that the fast food restaurant Arby’s was considered a possible source for the outbreak.

Investigators found that the restaurant had been closed for remodeling and reopened on Aug. 18, 2006, and was utilizing a brand new meat slicer following the reopening. Nineteen days after the restaurant was identified as the possible source of the outbreak, on Oct. 25, GPHL reported that one of the swab samples collected from the new meat slicer was positive for the Salmonella outbreak strain and the slicer was immediately removed from service.

Currently it is reported that at least 19 of those affected by the Arby’s Salmonella Outbreak had to seek medical treatment for the injuries sustained after eating at the popular fast food restaurant. We at Childers, Buck, & Schlueter, LLP are currently investigating claims associated with the Arby’s outbreak and would be happy to share some of our information concerning the event to those who have been affected by it occurrence. One of the fastest ways you can contact us to find out more information about this outbreak is through our Ask An Attorney feature.