Marissa Harshman of the Spokesman-Review writes Clark County Public Health officials in Washington state were among the first to identify a nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to tuna loins and tuna steaks.
Locally, the case began with five reports of illness to Clark County Public Health in late August. Since then, the outbreak has grown to 30 cases in seven states and led to a recall of a California-based company’s tuna products.
The outbreak includes six confirmed and two presumed cases in Clark County, said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer.
The investigation is continuing at the national level by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The fact that little, old Clark County was able to be one of the first people to pick up on this ongoing outbreak really highlights the strengths of this system we’ve developed,” said Madison Riethman, an applied epidemiology fellow at Clark County Public Health, during a county health board meeting Wednesday.
And what did little old Clark County do to publicize the outbreak, go public to try and prevent others getting sick.
The first rule of public health is, as encapsulated by Riethman, make public health look good.
Local health officials first learned of a possible outbreak on Aug. 29, when local laboratories reported five cases of salmonella, a bacteria that causes illness with symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Typically, the department gets three to eight reports each month, Riethman said.
“The fact that we got five in one day was a big red flag,” she said.