A hangover is not the only thing making UCSB students sick in Isla Vista, as a recent outbreak of salmonella infections has students running for the toilet.
Michele Mickiewicz, deputy director of the Public Health Dept., said there have been 75 lab-confirmed cases of salmonella in Santa Barbara County since January 2006. This number of cases is almost double the combined number of incidents in the past two years – there were 45 in 2004 and 40 in 2005.
“Typically, this year has been above-average. … We’re looking carefully into what’s happening,” Mickiewicz said.
Mickiewicz said the majority of confirmed cases for this outbreak were UCSB students.
“The current outbreak involves 37 cases – 18 lab-confirmed and 19 probable. These cases were predominately in the Goleta/Isla Vista area,” Mickiewicz said.
Mickiewicz said once someone is infected with salmonella – a bacterial infection with symptoms that include diarrhea, severe cramps, headache, bloody stool and vomiting – they carry the bacteria on their hands and can pass it to other people by touching food. She said a common way the bacteria are transferred is by an infected food industry worker handling food.
“Hand-washing is the key to stopping the spread of these kind of diseases,” Mickiewicz said.
The Public Health Dept. has been investigating in I.V., but Mickiewicz said they have not found the source of the outbreak. She said the department does not believe a specific restaurant or business is to blame for spreading the bacteria, and that they are hopeful the outbreak is becoming less severe.
“We believe this outbreak is on the decline, we’re trying to stop the spread of it,” Mickiewicz said. “We’re just following additional cases, but it looks like whatever caused it is over.”