Salmonella Concerns Shift to Peppers

Posted on July 9, 2008

The salmonella cases have now swelled to over 1,000 cases. The outbreak was originally blamed on tomatoes but it is now being blamed on jalapeno peppers reports the Wall Street Journal. New cases are still being reported with the most recent case falling on June 26th.

More than 1,000 people have become sick in the salmonella outbreak at first only blamed on tomatoes, and federal health officials now say jalape´┐Żo peppers caused some illnesses, especially in three larger clusters.

The outbreak, which has become the largest one carried by food in the last 10 years, also caused the death of a Texas man in his 80s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. The CDC said salmonella may have contributed to the death of another Texas man, who had cancer.

As of Tuesday, 1,017 people -- from 41 states, the District of Columbia and Canada -- had been confirmed to be infected with the rare salmonella strain dubbed Saintpaul, the CDC said. The first patient became sick on April 10 and the latest on June 26.

The latest figure is an increase from the 943 cases that were reported as of July 3. The outbreak appears to be continuing.

The CDC updated its saintpaul salmonella outbreak page today. The page says jalapeno's explain some of the cases but not all. Raw tomatoes, fresh serrano peppers, and fresh cilantro are also suspects.
Recently, many clusters of illnesses have been identified in several states among persons who ate at restaurants. Most clusters involve fewer than 5 ill persons. Three larger clusters have been intensively investigated. In one, illnesses were linked to consumption of an item containing fresh tomatoes and fresh jalapeno peppers. In the other two, illnesses were linked to an item containing fresh jalapeno peppers and no other of the suspect items. The accumulated data from all investigations indicate that jalapeno peppers caused some illnesses but that they do not explain all illnesses. Raw tomatoes, fresh serrano peppers, and fresh cilantro also remain under investigation. Investigators from many agencies are collaborating to track the source of the implicated peppers and other produce items.
WebMD notes that so far restaurants haven't been asked not to use jalapeno or serrano peppers. More stories on the ongoing salmonella outbreak can be found at Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Tribue and MSNBC.

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