Salmonella investigation expanded

PNT Staff Report

The New Mexico Department of Health says an investigation into salmonella cases in Roosevelt County has expanded.

NMDOH officials said Tuesday they have confirmed 12 cases in Roosevelt County by DNA testing and say they are all from the same strain. The latest of those cases was confirmed on July 7, according to officials.

NMDOH spokesman Chris Minnick said a new case of salmonella reported Tuesday in Portales was also being investigated.

Minnick said tests to confirm the strain of that case haven’t been completed.

“Of those 12 cases (early cases), eight of them ate at La Hacienda Restaurant,” Minnick said. “We do not know if the eight people that ate at the restaurant contracted the strain from there.”

Minnick said the fact that four people with salmonella didn’t eat at La Hacienda Restaurant opens the investigation up to a new source. He said that means the investigation will continue in order to determine the commonality between the cases.

“We are continuing with lab testing and interviews to determine the source,” Minnick said.

The workers of La Hacienda restaurant are individually being tested for the strain of salmonella, Minnick said.

“We are testing the employees (at the restaurant) to see if they passed on the strain of salmonella during food prep,” Minnick said.

Calls to the owners of La Hacienda Restaurant were not returned by press time.

The department of health started looking into six reported cases of salmonella and a possible link to La Hacienda in early-July.

In a previous interview, La Hacienda manager, Randy Ornelas said he has been concerned for some time about the ongoing news of an outbreak related to tomatoes and more recently jalape