A woman who became sick after eating at a barbeque fundraiser told Eyewitness News she doesn't blame the Shelby church that hosted the event. She's one of more than 70 people who became sick after eating salmonella-tainted food at Sandy Plains Baptist Church earlier this month. Thirteen of those people had to be hospitalized.
The church's pastor told Eyewitness News he wants to know the source of the salmonella outbreak. The church has been putting on the barbeque fundraiser for around 50 years. He says this is the first time anything like this has happened.
"It hit hard," Kathy Barclift said.
Barclift told Eyewitness News she thought she just had a bug at first, but then she couldn't get out of bed. A friend called her to tell her that she had gotten sick from the barbeque she ate at the church on Sept. 7.
"I hardly ever get sick, and she called me and said I know what happened to you," Barclift said. "It was on the news. And I said, 'Oh my goodness.'"
Barclift has now been talking to health officials. They've been interviewing the more than 70 people who have gotten sick. There are 11 confirmed cases of salmonella but investigators are still trying to pinpoint what caused the outbreak.
"We deeply regret that it's something that has made people sick," Pastor Garin Hill said. "But we want to get to the bottom of it. Because we want to do it again. We want to do it well. We want to do it the right way."
Hill says he's praying for the people who are still sick, and they want to make sure this never happens again.
"Hopefully we can move on," Hill said.
Barclift isn't blaming the church
"I really do not hold the church responsible," Barclift said. "Things happen. It could happen anywhere else."
Reported salmonella cases have steadily rose
Health officials still haven't determined exactly what caused the salmonella outbreak, but the number of reported illnesses has increased significantly since last week.
Since news of the salmonella poisoning broke on Tuesday, the number of those affected has nearly doubled each day. At least 13 people have been hospitalized.
On Wednesday, the health department confirmed 28 people were sick, on Thursday 54 and on Friday 71.
Of all the reported illnesses, only 11 have been confirmed as salmonella.
Eyewitness News will ask the health department for the latest numbers Monday morning.