Health officials believe that Salmonella-tainted lettuce or cabbage used in salads served to inmates at a Arizona prison is the cause of an outbreak that sickened hundreds earlier this month.

Jail cell/ National Park service

Officials say that 241 of the 1,426 inmates plus three employees at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Winslow, Kaibab and Coronado Units contracted the food poisoning after eating the suspect food on Aug. 31.

The last reported illness was on Sep. 7 and prison and health officials say the outbreak is now contained.

People who are sick with Salmonella usually experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps about 12 to 72 hours after they eat something contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Most people are sick for 4 to 7 days and can get better without treatment.

People who are at high risk for Salmonella infection include: infants, elderly, immunocompromised, including persons on immunosuppressive therapies or medications, and pregnant women.  People can decrease their risk of Salmonella infection through proper food handling and preparation and by practicing proper hand washing and hygiene practices.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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