Woman loses appendix after salmonella poisoning at Folk Fest
The fourth time at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival was the most memorable for Talia Johnson, but for the wrong reasons.
She is one of 19 salmonella cases linked with food exposure from the Haweli Restaurant food booth at the festival. Johnson ate food from Haweli on Friday, and started to feel sick on Monday.
“I started feeling very, very sick and I didn't feel better until August 25, so it was quite a long time,” Johnson told CTV News.
Alberta Health Services said symptoms flare up within six to 72 hours.
The 18-year-old decided to go to the hospital the following Wednesday in the Barrhead area – where she works at a kids camp – and was told to go back to Edmonton.
“When I went to the Grey Nuns on Saturday, they got the results back and said it was salmonella from those tests,” Johnson said. “It was weird that day in the hospital – I was feeling more pain in my abominable area that I didn’t feel before.”
The medical staff noticed elevated enzymes in her pancreas, so Johnson had an ultrasound to determine what was causing the abdominal pain.
“A doctor came up to me while I was in bed and said that I had appendicitis and that I would need surgery in a couple of hours, and they said it was from the salmonella,” Johnson said. “The fact that not only I went to the hospital but had to get surgery as a result of eating at a food place at Folk Fest is just kind of insane.”
AHS said the most common salmonella complication is dehydration, and other symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting.
Johnson missed two weeks of camp, and an additional two weeks from her restaurant job in Edmonton, because salmonella is a foodborne illness.
She received a letter on behalf of the Medical Officer of Health prohibiting her from working at a restaurant to limit the spread of infectious diseases.
“You are therefore prohibited from working in any occupation involving food handling, patient care or the care of young children, elderly or dependent people until your stool pattern has been normal for at least 48 hours,” part of the letter read.
Folk Music Festival producer Terry Wickham has been a part of the event for 29 years, and said he has never seen an outbreak this big before.
“My concern would be that it doesn’t happen again,” Wickham said. “The patrons can have my guarantee that we'll go to the ends of the earth to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Salmonella and surgery were bad experiences, but at this point, Johnson is already a festival regular.
“Definitely think I will be back next year. I love Folk Fest.”
With files from Nahreman Issa