Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) officials are investigating reports of Salmonellosis associated with a church conference at Living Word Tabernacle Church in Bessemer City, NC from October 1st through 5th. At least 50 attendees are reporting symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. As of 2pm on Tuesday, October 14th, there were 7 confirmed cases of Salmonella with a significant number of lab results pending and more samples are being collected. Gaston DHHS officials are currently identifying and interviewing symptomatic people who attended the conference.

Salmonella Image/CDC

Gaston DHHS is asking anyone who attended this conference and started having diarrhea within one week of the conference to call 704-853-5214. If individuals call after hours or on the weekend, they should leave a message and staff will return their call. Ill people need to make sure they are staying hydrated and should seek medical care from their private doctor, urgent care or emergency room if their diarrhea and/or vomiting symptoms don’t improve. The disease usually runs its course in five to seven days.

“Our public health staff is working closely with the church, the North Carolina Division of Public Health, and the community,” said Chris Dobbins, DHHS director. “Our priority is to identify those who have fallen ill, ensure they have received proper medical attention, and work together to identify a source so we can educate and prevent future outbreaks of this nature.”

  • SALMONELLOSIS (or “Salmonella infection”) is an infection caused by bacteria Salmonella which often results in severe diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain in humans.
  • It is transmitted by food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal or person. It is commonly transmitted via the fecal-oral route, from one infected person to another.
  • Symptoms typically appear within 6 to 72 hours of infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.
  • Salmonellosis affects all age groups. Groups at greatest risk for severe or complicated disease include infants, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems.
  • Individuals can continue to carry Salmonella for weeks after symptoms have subsided. Thorough cooking and hand washing eliminates the bacteria, which is often found in uncooked or undercooked meat, milk, eggs, or on surfaces that may have come into contact with even a microscopic amount of fecal matter.