Tomato Salmonella Outbreak Cases Surge

Posted on June 18, 2008

MSNBC reports that the number of people sickened by the tomatoes containing salmonella have soared to 383 with 106 new cases added to the tally. Most of the surge in cases is because the CDC only recently received information about people who fell ill several weeks ago. The last recorded case is still June 5th which is good news.

Most of this newest influx of cases were people who got sick weeks ago but hadn't been counted yet. Some states began doing a better job of checking for salmonella as the outbreak has dragged on, while part of the surge comes from test results that had been backlogged in jammed laboratories. Earlier today, six new illnesses connected to tainted tomatoes were confirmed in New York City.

What hasn't changed is that the earliest known victim got sick on April 10, and the latest on June 5.

But New Hampshire and Pennsylvania reported their first cases, bringing to 30 the number of states - plus Washington, D.C. - that have reported sick residents, although some may have been infected while traveling. At least 48 people have been hospitalized.

It might be impossible to trace the ultimate source of the tainted tomatoes, the Food and Drug Administration's food safety chief warned Wednesday.

The CDC's webpage on the outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul contains the following counts from each state. Texas has the most with 131 cases.
Since April, 383 persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in 30 states and the District of Columbia: Arkansas (2 persons), Arizona (26), California (8), Colorado (2), Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Georgia (8), Idaho (3), Illinois (34), Indiana (8), Kansas (9), Kentucky (1), Maryland (10), Michigan (3), Missouri (9), New Hampshire (1), New Mexico (70), New York (9), North Carolina (1), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (5), Oregon (4), Pennsylvania (2), Tennessee (4), Texas (131), Utah (2), Virginia (17), Vermont (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (5), and the District of Columbia (1). These were identified because clinical laboratories in all states send Salmonella strains from ill persons to their State public health laboratory for characterization. The marked increase in reported ill persons is not primarily due to a large number of new infections. The number of reported ill persons increased markedly mainly because some states improved surveillance for Salmonella in response to this outbreak and because laboratory identification of many previously submitted strains was completed. Among the 243 persons with information available, illnesses began between April 10 and June 5, 2008. Patients range in age from <1 to 88 years; 47% are female. At least 48 persons were hospitalized. No deaths have been officially attributed to this outbreak. However, a man in his sixties who died in Texas from cancer had an infection with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Saintpaul at the time of his death. The infection may have contributed to his death.
The FDA's tomato outbreak page shows you which tomatoes you can eat.

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