With the recent uptick in salmonella cases in Cole County, keep in mind precautions are more productive than panic.
As of Tuesday, 25 cases had been reported in the county. While that's an increase from the norm, it's no epidemic. About 78,000 people live in the county.
Of 20 cases reported the previous Friday, 13 of those affected were found to have a common denominator: They all ate at a particular restaurant.
The county health department says that alone doesn't confirm the restaurant is the culprit, but is continuing its investigation into the outbreak.
They have asked the Jefferson City's Environmental Health Services Division to investigate safe food-handling procedures at that food establishment, as well as others named by the affected individuals. That division inspects local restaurants.
Local residents, rightly or wrongly, have named suspected restaurants on social media. We ask residents to refrain from finger-pointing in lieu of a completed investigation.
At the same time, this should serve as just one more reminder to local businesses that in the internet age, a single customer experience has the ability to help or hurt your business more than ever. Keep your customers happy and safe, and they'll reward you with return business.
Salmonella is a bacterial disease of the intestinal tract. Most people infected with salmonella develop symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal cramping and a low-grade fever within 12-72 hours of infection, according to the health department's news release.
There are many tips to avoid salmonella, but it boils down to a few common-sense practices:
Cook poultry, ground beef and eggs thoroughly.
If your restaurant dish appears to be undercooked, don't hesitate to send it back for further cooking.
Wash your hands and all contact surfaces. Salmonella can be carried by various animals, including reptiles, farm animals, rodents and some birds and amphibians.
Leave the raw eggs to Rocky. Make sure yours are cooked and that leftovers are promptly refrigerated. These simple steps will reduce greatly the chance you will contract salmonella, as well as your anxiety level.