Idaho Salmonella Outbreak Tied to Sprouts

Consumers are being warned by public health officials in Idaho to throw out alfalfa sprouts from Evergreen Produce of Moyie Springs, over a potential outbreak of the <"">Salmonella pathogen. The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare is investigating some Salmonella cases it believes are linked to the alfalfa sprouts.

To date, 19 people have fallen ill in northern Idaho, eastern Washington, and western Montana. Of these, 6 people reported eating alfalfa sprouts from Evergreen, Health & Welfare, said the Bonner County Daily Bee.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates indicate that 1 in 6 people in the U.S. is sickened by contaminated food annually, with foodborne illness blamed for some 3,000 deaths every year. Salmonella infection is the most prevalent foodborne illness in the U.S., resulting in 2,300 hospitalizations and 29 deaths last year, alone.

Contamination with the Salmonella pathogen can cause salmonellosis, which can lead to serious consequences, most especially in the elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems, who may experience a more serious illness and symptoms. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites, and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Dangerous, and sometimes deadly, some Salmonella strains have become drug resistant. As a matter-of-fact, food safety watchdog group, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) just said it filed a regulatory petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to deem four antibiotic-resistant Salmonella strains as adulterants in certain meats, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP). The four strains involved are: Salmonella Heidelberg, Newport, Hadar, and Typhimurium. All have been linked with foodborne illness outbreaks, CIDRAP added.

When pathogens, such as the foodborne bacteria Salmonella become resistant to antibiotic treatment, treatment options are minimized, treatment becomes significantly more difficult, and patients cannot always be brought back to their presickness state.

It is unknown which strain of Salmonella is involved in the Idaho sprout outbreak.

The CDC notes that people suffering from salmonellosis usually experience symptoms beginning 12 to 72 hours after becoming contaminated. Symptoms may include fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea and usually last 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without antibiotic treatment; however, diarrhea can be very severe, and hospitalization may be required.

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