Salmonella Cases on the Rise in Ector County

By: Justin Kree

NewsWest 9

ODESSA-  Summer time weekends bring family and friends to local parks for picnics and gatherings. But if your food is kept out to long, or not cooked thoroughly enough, your weekend gathering could end with a trip to the ER.

Ector County has seen a rise in salmonella cases so far this year. The heath department says this is nothing new for these warmer months.

"Pretty much it's been bad this summer. I think that might just be because it's been very temperate overall for the last few months," Robison-Chadwell said.

Amanda Robison-Chadwell is the epidemiologist for Ector County. Her job is to track new diseases incidents and prevalence rate for Ector County. She tells NewsWest 9, family fun in the park, can lead to a hefty medical bill.

"Poultry, turkey, chicken, they aren't cooking it to temperature. You need that meat thermometer, you can't just look at it and assume it's cooked all the way through. You definitely can't leave food sitting out for a long period of time. I can't tell you how many times I've been to bar-b-q's where they put the meat out and they just let it sit there," Robison-Chadwell said.

There are important steps you can take to avoid getting or giving salmonella.

"Hand washing. Don't handle raw meat, throw it on the grill and not was your hands. Because you're just going to keep reinfecting it. 

If you show up to a gathering where there is food you should ask questions, first.

"The first thing you should ask is, how long has it been sitting there. If they tell you its been there for 3-4 hours, I would avoid certain things," Robison-Chadwell said.

The center for disease control and prevention says approximately 400 people die each year from salmonella.

The health department says a meat thermometer is less that $10.00, compared to the ER Cost.

"You don't want to see people go to the hospital for something they could have easily prevented," Robison-Chadwell said.

The young and the elderly need to be watched this summer, so they can avoid salmonella poisoning.