University Health Services (UHS) investigators yesterday diagnosed another case of salmonella at Kirkland House, and UHS officials said they will continue the ban on interhouse dining until the threat of further contagion is over.
Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of UHS, said yesterday the recently-reported case at Kirkland House was contracted at the same time as the other three cases. Because investigators have not found any new cases from other Houses, Macker said yesterday salmonella may not be spreading.
Wacker also said at a Kirkland House Committee meeting last night he hopes to lift the ban as soon as possible, perhaps as early as next week if no further cases are diagnosed. He added he does not believe there are any more suspected cases at Kirkland House.
A group of students from Eliot House are considering circulating a petition asking the University to reimburse them for eating meals outside the College, Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, said yesterday. He added he will wait to see if the interhouse ban isolates the salmonella bacteria before considering such a rebate.
Charles J. Krause Jr., sanitary inspector for UHS, said yesterday he believes the source of the most recent outbreak is most likely a student spreading the infection either through handling fruit or food at the salad bar.
Because the carrier is possibly a student, the ban on interhouse dining applies even if one kitchen serves more than one dining hall, for students can carry the infection to different dining halls.
Krause said he does not believe the source of the infection is a food service worker because workers remain at one House and therefore could not have spread the infection from Winthrop to Kirkland.
"We had to do something because the possibilities of contagion are mind-boggling. People can have salmonella without knowing it, and then spread it throughout the College," Krause said yesterday.
A person who contracts salmonella can remain a carrier of the infection up to a month after recovering from the symptoms, Wacker said yesterday.
Krause said he has tested most possible carrier foods, such as chicken, eggs and rare roast beef, but has not yet discovered any salmonella bacteria. However, all dining halls are saving a portion of each meal for three days so that if a student or worker becomes infected, UHS labs can test the meals they ate for salmonella.
Krause said he also rules out Harvard's food supplier because if food sources were infected, students at many different Houses should be contracting salmonella.
UHS did not consider an interhouse ban before the Kirkland House outbreak because the cases at the Union stopped as soon as officials removed infected workers from the food line, Krause said.
If food service workers complain of any salmonella symptoms, managers are removing them from the food service line temporarily, Krause said.
Edward Childs, chairman of the dining hall workers' Health and Safety Committee, said yesterday he is very concerned that food service workers who contract the infection may pass it along to their children, who are more susceptible to salmonella.
If workers wash their hands carefully with a surgical scrub, they should not pass along the salmonella. Wacker said.
UHS is waiting for the Center for Disease Control to analyze the salmonella samples from the Union, Winthrop and Kirkland Houses to see if the strains of salmonella bacteria are the same. Krause said. If the salmonella samples are all the same type, then the Union would be the original source of the outbreak, Krause added.