Salmonella Outbreak May be Linked to Lettuce

According to federal and state health authorities, a <"">Salmonella outbreak that was at its strongest last month may be over. William Keene, senior epidemiologist at the Public Health Division in Oregon said that the first cases began appearing across the country in the middle of July and seemed to have slowed down in August, reported Oregon Live.

At least 124 people nationwide fell ill with Salmonella. Salmonella is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or patients diagnosed with HIV and AIDs. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella poisoning 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 (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

Although there were no deaths related to this particular outbreak, two people were hospitalized and one’s symptoms were classified as “severe,” according to Keene, reported Oregon Live.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remain unclear as to the exact origin of this outbreak, it is widely believed by the experts working on the investigation that shredded lettuce is to blame, according to Keene. “We’re trying to learn what happened and what steps can be taken to reduce risk,” he said, quoted Oregon Live.

The outbreak involved the strain Salmonella Typhimurium.
Although no recall has been linked to the outbreak and shredded lettuce is believed to be the source, at least one lettuce producer issued a voluntary lettuce recall. It is believed that if lettuce is to blame, said Oregon Live, that tainted batches are now well beyond their shelf life.

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. Salmonella is the most frequently reported cause of food-related outbreaks of stomach illness worldwide and

Salmonella poisoning can lead to Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination.

Outbreaks linked to lettuce are particularly challenging, noted Oregon Live, because while consumers might be better able to recall eating a steak, for example, remembering lettuce in a sandwich poses a greater challenge. In this case, a good amount of those sickened reported having eaten at fast-food restaurants, said Oregon Live.

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