CDC: Two foodborne outbreaks sicken 26 in 8 states

Mar 24, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday said the total number of cases has risen to 26 in a pair of foodborne disease outbreaks, one involving Salmonella possibly tied to cantaloupe and the other involving Escherichia coli O157:H7 thought to come from bologna.

The CDC said it is collaborating with health officials in several states, along with federal investigators, to probe the two multistate outbreaks. Two companies recalled their food products after epidemiologic investigations linked Salmonella Panama infections to certain cantaloupe shipments from Del Monte Fresh Produce and tied E coli O157:H7 infections to Lebanon bologna made by Palmyra Bologna Co.

As of Mar 22, the CDC said it had received reports of 12 patients from four states that have been sickened with the Salmonella Panama outbreak strain. The cases were reported from Oregon (5), Washington (4), California (2), and Maryland (1). Illness onset dates range from Feb 5 to 23, and patient ages span 1 to 68 years. Two patients were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic investigations found that all but one of the patients ate cantaloupe the week before they got sick and 10 ate cantaloupe that was bought at seven different locations of a national warehouse club. Media reports have identified them as Costco stores.

With patients' permission, the investigators used membership card records to determine that the cantaloupe they bought came from a single farm, the CDC said. In a Mar 22 recall notice, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the cantaloupes were grown on and shipped from a Del Monte farm in Asuncion Mita, Guatemala.

The 4,992 cartons of recalled cantaloupes were distributed through warehouse clubs in seven western states and sold between Mar 10 and 21.

In the E coli outbreak, the CDC said that as of Mar 22 it had been notified of 14 infections with the outbreak strain. The patients are from five states: Maryland (3), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (1), Ohio (2), and Pennsylvania (6). Illness onsets occurred between Jan 10 and Feb 15. Patient ages range from 1 to 70 years, and 11 are male. Of 13 patients for whom medical records are available, 3 were hospitalized. None had hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney complication.

The 23,000 pounds of recalled bologna was marketed under the Seltzer's Beef Lebanon Bologna brand and was packaged for consumers and retailers. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in its Mar 22 recall notice that the product packaged for retailers could have been further sliced or repackaged. The products were sent to distributors in California, Colorado, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania.

During the epidemiologic investigation, a case-control study of 13 of the sick patients and 21 age-matched controls found that those who were sick were significantly (69%) more likely to report eating Lebanon bologna. Four of those had purchased Seltzer Lebanon bologna at four different grocery stores in three states before they got sick, the CDC said.

See also:

Mar 23 CDC statement on Salmonella outbreak

Mar 23 CDC statement on E coli outbreak

Mar 23 CIDRAP News story "Illness outbreaks spur cantaloupe, bologna recalls"

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