Salmonella Outbreak in Six States Linked to Raw Alfalfa Sprouts

A <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/salmonella">Salmonella outbreak has prompted U.S. health regulators to warn consumers not to eat raw alfalfa sprouts. According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), outbreaks of Salmonella St. Paul in six states have been linked to raw alfalfa sprouts, and alfalfa sprout blends.

According to the FDA, the illnesses began in mid-March. Cases are still being reported, and possible cases are in various stages of laboratory testing, so illnesses may appear in other states. No deaths have been reported. The number of infected people may be higher than currently reported because some illnesses have not yet been confirmed with laboratory testing.

A total of 31 cases of Salmonella St. Paul have been reported in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia, the FDA said. Most of those who became ill reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts. Some reported eating raw sprouts at restaurants; others reported purchasing the raw sprouts at the retail level.

This outbreak appears to be an extension of an earlier outbreak in 2009, the FDA said. In February and March, an outbreak of Salmonella St. Paul occurred in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota. This outbreak was linked to raw alfalfa sprouts, and the outbreak strain was indistinguishable from that of these recently reported cases. A separate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections was also linked to sprouts in 2009.

According to the FDA, its initial investigation results trace the contaminated raw alfalfa sprouts to multiple sprout growers in multiple states. This suggests a potential problem with the seeds used, as well as the possible failure of the sprout growers involved to appropriately and consistently follow the FDA Sprout Guidance issued in 1999.

Because suspect lots of seeds may be sold around the country and may account for a large proportion of the alfalfa seeds currently being used by sprout growers, and cases of illness are spread across multiple states, U.S. health officials are issuing a general advisory warning consumers to avoid these products. Other types of sprouts have not been implicated at this time.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea which may be bloody, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis.

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