Jambalaya at fundraiser in Louisiana may have sickened dozens, killed 1

COLUMBIA, La. — Salmonella from the chicken and sausage jambalaya at a softball team's fundraiser may have killed one person and apparently has made dozens of people ill, Louisiana's health department said Thursday.

At least 49 people got sick after eating the rice and meat dish sold Monday, and 31 were hospitalized, said Department of Health spokeswoman Samantha Hartmann.

"The ages of those with a confirmed illness range from 15 years old to 70," a department news release said.

Doctors expect more illness, because more than 300 plates may have been sold. The gastrointestinal illness occasionally develops a week later, the statement said.

The fundraiser was in Columbia, a town of about 400 and the Caldwell Parish seat.

Many businesses in town were short-staffed because of the outbreak, Mayor Richard Meredith told The News-Star of Monroe.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "It's affected a lot of people, maybe a couple of hundred from my best estimation."

Drew Keahey, a Caldwell Parish farmer, president of the Tensas Parish Levee District board and a director of Homeland Bank, said more than 10 went home sick from the bank Tuesday.

"Everybody knows somebody who is sick," he said.

The health department advised throwing away any uneaten food from the event, including side dishes.

It said samples from five people tested positive for salmonella, and an autopsy will tell whether salmonella caused the death.