Rare Salmonella Strain Tied to Outbreak in Iowa

salmonella_outbreak_IowaA rare Salmonella strain has been detected in Iowa. The total reported cases of this particular strain of Salmonella has reached 26.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the 26 reported cases of salmonellosis—Salmonella poisoning—are fairly widespread and have been reported in 19 counties over the past several weeks, according to the Quad-City Times (QC Times).

“Salmonella is commonly the result of improper handling or in the preparation of food,” Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director of the health department, told the QC Times. According to Dr. Quinlisk, this particular Salmonella strain is associated with improperly cooked eggs or poultry. Dr. Quinlisk also noted that the bacteria that lead to food borne illness can colonize within two hours—as short as just one hour in summer heat. The outbreak has not been tied to a particular food or event.

Salmonella—which is typically passed from animal feces, generally from chickens, and can contaminate water and produce—is the most common food born pathogen in the United States. Lower moisture foods do not typically support the growth of the Salmonella pathogen; however, small amounts of Salmonella can be found in other foods depending on the way in which the foods are cultivated, processed, or prepared.

Salmonella-contaminated food may not look or smell spoiled; however, consumption of food contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria may cause the food borne illness known as salmonellosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning include fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Symptoms typically last four to seven days. Most persons recover without antibiotic treatment; however, the diarrhea can be severe, and hospitalization may be required.

The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems may develop more serious illness and the infection can potentially spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites. This can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Some 42,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported annually with about 400 people dying from the contamination, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Meanwhile, Iowa is part of a multi-state outbreak of cyclospora that remains under investigation by federal regulators. As with the Salmonella outbreak, a cyclospora outbreak cause has not yet been determined.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is probing the intestinal infection; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) and local and state officials are also looking at the outbreak that has sickened more than 200 people in at least four states, according to Reuters. The cyclosporiasis outbreak is believed to be related to contaminated fruit and vegetables.

People can remain ill with cyclosporiasis, which is caused by the rare cyclospora parasite, for about two months. The food borne illness causes symptoms such as watery diarrhea, appetite and weight loss, cramps, bloating, gas, nausea, and fatigue. The disease can also lead to vomiting and low-grade fever in some cases, according to the CDC. CBS News points out that the diarrhea could last nearly 60 days without treatment, which is typically the combination antibiotic trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole.

Cyclosporiasis is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with a microscopic one-celled parasite, according to Reuters, and is more commonly seen in the world’s tropical and subtropical regions.

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