Officials still looking for cause of Vancouver salmonella outbreak

Officials still looking for cause of Vancouver salmonella outbreak

VANCOUVER, Wash. - Health leaders still are not sure what's responsible for a salmonella outbreak at a restaurant, but they expect the number of cases to increase.

The county public health department shut down the On the Border Mexican Grill on Southeast 164th Avenue Tuesday in response to the outbreak. They confirmed 12 people got sick and two went to the hospital.

The county suspects another 21 people got salmonella, but they are waiting for lab tests to confirm that.

"Right now we don't have any evidence that anybody was exposed since late September, but there's still a possibility and we're concerned enough about that, which is why we closed the restaurant and we're going public," said Clark County Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick.

That's were Mattie Futrell comes in. She ate at the restaurant on Sept. 29 – two days after the most recent confirmed case. She's sick and doctors have confirmed she has a bacterial infection. But her tests aren't back yet on whether it's salmonella. But she has all the symptoms. Health experts say some victims may only now realize what's going on.

At 88 years old, any infection can turn life-threatening for someone like Futrell.

"So I'm pretty careful with the food I eat at home and everything," she says. "I wash it real good, and I quit eating cantaloupes for a while because they scared us on the cantaloupe thing."

When she first got sick, Futrell didn't even think about the meal she'd had at the restaurant.

"I started having terrible cramps and diarrhea. And I just didn't think too much about it.  You know, when you're older you don't just run to the doctor right away," she said.

Then Futrell heard about the salmonella outbreak while watching KATU News. Her doctors ordered tests and gave her antibiotics.

"Now it's twice a night," she says. "Before it was every two hours and all night long and all day. I couldn't leave the house there for the first few days, and I kept telling my son 'I don't feel good.  I don't feel good.'"

Because it's looking more likely Futrell has salmonella, her doctor on Thursday gave her a stronger antibiotic. She hopes to know for sure whether it's salmonella by Thursday night.

All of the restaurant's workers are being tested too. Meanwhile, the restaurant remains closed.