More than 200 Alamosa salmonella cases suspected |

More than 200 Alamosa salmonella cases suspected

ALAMOSA, Colorado ” The number of suspected salmonella cases linked to an outbreak in this southern Colorado town topped 200 Sunday.

Of 216 reported cases so far, 68 have been confirmed by lab results, public information officer Jim Shires said. Nine people have been hospitalized, but only one was believed to still be in the hospital, Shires said.

Shires is part of a nine-person incident management team from Jefferson County that arrived to help Alamosa officials respond to the outbreak, which health officials said may be caused by the municipal water system.

Officials planned to flush the water system with a chlorine solution in stages beginning Tuesday morning.

Health officials told residents to stop drinking and cooking with tap water last Wednesday, after tap water samples tested positive for bacterial contamination.

Since then, city officials have worked to coordinate distribution of bottled water.

Gov. Bill Ritter declared a public health emergency Friday, freeing up $300,000 in aid and activating the Colorado National Guard to help distribute safe water.

While the city water system is being flushed, residents will not be able to use tap water, even if it is boiled, to brush teeth, wash dishes, cook or drink. The flushing process could take several days.

State health and emergency officials have worked with dozens of companies to provide residents with bottled water, but Shires said they hope to save most of the bottles for schools. He urged residents to bring large containers to distribution centers around town to be filled with safe water.

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