Following a weekend gathering on August 2nd, individuals from at least eight states became ill with salmonellosis following attendance at Southern Michigan’s Reading Summer Festival Days – an event that was attended by just over 250 people, many of whom are senior citizens. Numerous attendees reported illness in the ensuing days, and at least 12 of those were eventually laboratory confirmed as salmonella victims, with many more listed as “probable” or “likely” victims. Following an exhaustive investigation, officials were finally able to trace the salmonella to either berries or melons served at the event, but as of yet have been unable to identify the origin of the salmonella bacteria and how it was introduced onto the fruit.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has acknowledge that the Reading Summer Festival outbreak was likely a “sub-cluster” of much larger outbreak, and that this particular strain of salmonella is often normally associated with poultry. It may be that the bacteria was introduced through cross contamination into the fruit being served at this event during food preparation.
Of the 12 confirmed and 36 suspected cases, not all attended the gathering in Southern Michigan themselves. According to a chief health officer of the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Counties Community Health Agency (CHA), Mr. Steve Todd, some of the salmonella victims were attendees’ family members. Secondary infections represent those cases where the salmonella is likely spread from an initial group of victims with direct contact to the source to those persons in contact with the victims but not the initial source.
The CHA contacted a majority of attendees, noting a number reported being hospitalized. However, because the food had been consumed or destroyed prior to health officials becoming aware of the outbreak, there remained no leftover food for testing and an epidemiological link could not be established to any particular ingredient.