Tomato salmonella outbreak largest on record - The Packer

Tomato salmonella outbreak largest on record

06/26/2008 12:00:00 AM
David Mitchell


As of June 26, since April there have been 756 persons reported infected with Salmonella Saintpaul in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

(June 24 - UPDATED June 26 5:25 p.m.) The number of reported illnesses in the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak linked to fresh tomatoes has swelled to more than 750 people.

Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, told NBC June 21 this is the largest salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes since the agency started keeping records in the late 1960s.

The CDC said June 23 that there are now 756 reported illnesses in 34 states and Washington D.C. (as of June 26).

A CDC spokeswoman said the largest previous outbreak was a 2002 outbreak of Salmonella Newport, with 510 reported illnesses. There were three salmonella outbreaks related to tomatoes in 2004, with a total of 561 illnesses in the U.S. and Canada. The largest of those incidents had 429 reported illnesses.

This is the 13th salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes since 1990.

Ian Williams, chief of the CDC unit that investigates outbreaks, has said for every reported illness, there likely are at least 30 more cases that public health officials don’t know about. That means the ongoing outbreak could be affecting more than 22,000 people (as of June 26).

CDC said in its June 23 report that at least 95 people have been hospitalized (as of June 26). No deaths have been directly attributed to the outbreak. The onset dates of reported illnesses now stretch from April 10 to June 13, the agency said.

The number of reported illnesses has made a few dramatic increases in the past week. However, CDC said the increase is not the result of a large number of new infections; the increases are due to improved surveillance for salmonella by state health officials and the completion of numerous laboratory tests.



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