(June 18, 5:26 p.m.) As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on June 18 upped the number of reported salmonella cases in tomatoes by 106 cases from two days earlier, the Food and Drug Administration is focusing on a cluster of nine cases in one geographic area in its traceback investigation of a multistate outbreak.
David Acheson, the FDAâs associate commissioner for foods, has said the cluster is the agencyâs âmost fruitful lead to date,â but has declined to elaborate on the location of the cluster.
However, The Chicago Tribune reported June 18 that the Chicago Department of Public Health said nine of the cityâs 17 cases were reported by people who fell ill after eating at Adobo Grillâs two restaurants on Chicagoâs north side.
The cluster is significant because 17 of the 30 states affected by the outbreak have five or fewer reported cases. Acheson has said that one patient in one area is far less likely to provide a break in the case.
Acheson, who again declined to discuss the location of the cluster during a June 18 conference call with media, said he hopes the cluster will provide information about where the tainted tomatoes came from.
Meanwhile, the CDC said June 18 that the number of reported cases has swelled to 383 in 30 states, up from 277 reported cases in 28 states on June 16.
At least 48 people have been hospitalized.
Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDCâs Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, said the dramatic increase was not a result of recent infections. The numbers, he said, jumped because of completed lab tests and stepped up surveillance for salmonella by state health agencies.
Acheson said he hopes that additional clusters of cases will emerge with the new reported cases. He reiterated there is a âhigh likelihoodâ that Florida or Mexico is the source of the outbreak. Nineteen Florida counties and Baja California have been cleared in those areas.
Acheson, however, acknowledged state and federal investigators might never be able to pinpoint the source of the outbreak.
âIâm still optimistic,â he said, âbut Iâm trying to be realistic.â
Tauxe said the most recent illness had an onset date of June 5.
âItâs ongoing,â he said of the outbreak. âItâs too early to say itâs peaked. Itâs certainly not over.â