Nebraska Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 14 Women

An unknown <"">salmonella strain has sickened 14 women in Nebraska, hospitalizing two. While the Douglas County Health Department was able to confirm the outbreak, which has sickened women under the age of 50, the strain is unfamiliar to experts, said KETV7.

KETV7 also reported that officials in Nebraska sent the strain to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and have issued an all points bulletin to other states’ health departments. The illnesses all originated from the same strain, but its origin remains unknown. Cases have been reported from a number of Nebraska counties.

According to the state health department, the Nebraska salmonella strain is identical in serotype to the outbreak that was linked to tomatoes and jalepeno peppers this summer; however, the genetic fingerprint is different. Dr. Anne O’Keefe from the health department noted that this specific strain has never been seen in the United States, noting that, “We know this is something new and different,” quoted KETV7. Nebraska officials do not believe the strain emerging there is related to the massive, nationwide outbreak linked to Peanut Corporation of America.

The state epidemiologist, Dr. Tom Safranek, discussed the difficulties in tracking down the outbreak’s cause saying, “If these were not all salmonella St. Paul, we wouldn’t be doing this right now. It looks like this is all related and when we see that we just have to believe there is some kind of common source,” reported KETV7.

According to officials in Nebraska, cases began being reported on February 2, with the reports continuing for the next 10 days. The youngest victim was in her teens. Omaha World Herald reported that the CDC warned that more cases are expected and Dr. Safranek said that more cases, which have not been confirmed, are likely linked to this outbreak.

Salmonella causes 40,000 confirmed cases each year, but, says the CDC, is probably responsible for close to 40 times that—a stunning 1,600,000—noting that 2,500 subtypes of salmonella exist, said MSNBC in an earlier report.

Health officials recently admitted that the ongoing peanut salmonella outbreak was not handled as quickly as it could have been, in part because of a variety of differing and inconsistent state laws, reported MSNBC. Apparently, not all states require submission of salmonella specimens that contain the DNA markers that are necessary to confirm an outbreak, said MSNBC, which broke the story on how lags in food borne infection outbreaks can cost much more than money in the way of health and life.

Salmonella can cause serious, sometimes fatal salmonellosis infections in young children and weak or elderly people. Healthy people may experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, if infected. Without treatment, severe cases of Salmonella can result in death; however, some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.

Salmonella is usually found in food contaminated with animal feces and is a group of bacteria that passes from the feces of people or animals to other people or animals, causing contamination when food is improperly stored or handled and when preparers do not wash their hands or sanitize implements involved in food storage.

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