Officials probe multistate Salmonella outbreak

Editor's note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Jan 8 that, contrary to this story, it had not activated its emergency network to investigate the Salmonella outbreak and that chicken was not the leading suspected food source. Those items were based on a Jan 7 USA Today online report that the CDC said was later withdrawn.

Jan 7, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – An official at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the agency is investigating a Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium outbreak that has sickened 336 people in 34 states.

Frederick Angulo, the CDC's deputy chief of enteric diseases, said the source of the outbreak has not been determined and that the CDC has activated its emergency network to investigate the outbreak, USA Today reported today. He said all the cases have matching DNA fingerprints.

Yesterday the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said in a press release that it was assisting in the investigation of the outbreak, which has sickened 50 state residents since October. The ODH said Ohio had the nation's second highest number of cases.

"The lead hypothesis [about the Salmonella source] is chicken, but it's a hard thing to prove," the CDC's Angulo told USA Today. "Everybody eats chicken."

Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), told CIDRAP News that Minnesota has confirmed 30 cases that are linked to the national outbreak and that the department expects to detect additional cases. Experts from the MDH, including Team Diarrhea, a group that conducts case-control studies in foodborne disease outbreaks, are continuing their investigation into the source of the Salmonella, he said.

Salmonellosis typically causes fever and nonbloody diarrhea that resolves in a week. Serotypes Typhimurium and Enteritidis are most the common strains of Salmonella bacteria in the United States, according to the CDC. In April 2008, an outbreak involving S Typhimurium was linked to contamination in the water system of Alamosa, Colo., and the same serotype was responsible for a 2006 outbreak linked to tomatoes, according to previous reports.

Alvin D. Jackson, MD, director of the ODH, said in the Ohio statement that simple steps to prevent Salmonella infections include taking care when handling raw meat, washing hands between food preparation and caring for infants and small children, cooking meat thoroughly, and avoiding eating raw or undercooked meat.

See also:

Jan 6 ODH statement

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