Salmonella Outbreak Grows, But Cause Still Uncertain

A multi-state Salmonella outbreak, potentially linked to sushi, continues to grow; however, its cause remains unconfirmed.

Those sickened has reached 100, wrote The Wall Street Journal; 10 have been hospitalized, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been no reports of death. Illnesses have been reported in 19 states and the District of Columbia and have been striking people who have, for the most part, recently consumed sushi, sashimi, or related types of foods, the CDC said, wrote The Journal.

New York health officials said that, despite the apparent connection, it is too soon to name a culprit and to blame sushi, since not all of those sickened in New York consumed raw-fish products, said The Journal. The Salmonella strain involved is fairly rare, Salmonella Bareilly, is most commonly linked to bean sprouts.

Most of the states involved are on the East Coast, are Gulf states, and are in the Midwest, including, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri. The largest number of people sickened in any state is 23 in New York and, there, mostly in the New York City metropolitan area, said The Journal.

We previously wrote that some of the sickened are located in Missouri and Texas, according to an internal U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) memo. FDA spokesman, Curtis Allen, initially confirmed the memo’s contents to MSNBC, noting that the document was inadvertently sent to everyone at the agency. The agency said that the exact numbers involved in the outbreak could not be confirmed at that time and that it and the CDC were
collaborating to locate the cause and magnitude of the outbreak.

According to the FDA email, spicy tuna roll sushi was considered “highly suspect”; however, Allen stressed that this is only an initial speculation. The FDA memo also indicated that the federal agencies are looking at six so-called restaurant clusters located in Texas, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Connecticut.

“CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella serotype Bareilly infections,” CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said in a statement to CNN.

Russell told CNN that, so far, “on initial interviews, many of the ill persons reported consuming sushi, sashimi, or similar foods in a variety of locations in the week before becoming ill.” Because no product or facility has been confirmed, consumers are not being told to avoid any particular food or restaurant, said the CDC, but once a food is identified, the public will be advised, said a CDC statement.

The most common symptoms of Salmonella poisoning—salmonellosis—are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever, with symptoms manifesting, usually, within six to 72 hours. Additional symptoms include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days. The illness usually lasts four to seven days; however, in some, the organism can invade the bloodstream, becoming so severe that hospitalization is required. Sometimes, infection with the Salmonella pathogen can result in, and produce more severe or chronic illnesses.

Salmonella can be dangerous, sometimes deadly, leaving sufferers with serious life-long health issues. Salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial food borne illnesses, can be especially life threatening to those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy.

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