More Sick in Subway Salmonella Outbreak

The number of those sickened in the ongoing Subway restaurant<"">Salmonella outbreak has increased to 48 as of yesterday, the News-Gazette reported. Last week, we wrote that 34 people had fallen ill. The number of counties implicated and the number of people hospitalized have also seen increases in the growing outbreak.

Now, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting that the Salmonella cases are connected with the ongoing investigation of illnesses in customers who ate at some Subway restaurants in 18 Illinois counties (up from 14 counties last week): Champaign, Coles, Shelby, Bureau, Cass, Christian, Fulton, LaSalle, Macon, Marshall, Ogle, Peoria, Sangamon, Schuyler, Shelby, Tazewell, Warren, and Will, wrote the News-Gazette. Although all are recovering, 17 required hospitalization, up from 14 hospitalizations reported last week.

Everyone who reported becoming sick said they fell ill between May 11 and May 18; those sickened range in age from three to 88, the News-Gazette reported.

According to the report, the Illinois Department of Public Health is collaborating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Subway restaurant chain, and local health departments. The report also indicated that Subway voluntarily withdrew and replaced all its lettuce, green peppers, red onions, and tomatoes from the impacted dates.

Salmonella, the most prevalent food borne pathogen in this country, is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

Salmonella poisoning can also lead to Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Some Salmonella bacteria are antibiotic resistant, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.

Subway restaurants have been implicated in food poisoning outbreaks in the past. For example, we recently wrote about shigella cases linked to a single Subway restaurant in Lombard, Illinois, which—at last count—reached 116. According to The Lombard Spectator, that number was confirmed by the DuPage County Health Department. At least 13 of those sickened were hospitalized.

The DuPage County Health Department was not—to date—able to pinpoint the source of the shigella, and concedes that it may never be able to.

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