Subway Salmonella Cases Near 80

The ongoing <"">Salmonella outbreak linked to Subway restaurants in Illinois continues to grow with cases increasing to nearly 80, according to the News-Gazette. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that 79 cases have been confirmed and have been categorized as the rare Salmonella serotype Hvittingfoss, said the News-Gazette. Those who have fallen ill range in age from two to 79.

The number of counties implicated has also grown and is now at 26: Bureau, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Coles, DeKalb, DeWitt, Fulton, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, Livingston, Macon, Marshall, McLean, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Sangamon, Schuyler, Shelby, Tazewell, Vermilion, Warren, Will, and Winnebago. At last count, seven people remained hospitalized. Fresh produce appears to be the likely culprit.

As we previously mentioned and The Packer reiterated, following reports of illnesses, Subway began replacing some of its produce supplies. The Illinois Department of Public Health is collaborating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Subway restaurant chain, and local health departments. Subway voluntarily withdrew and replaced all its lettuce, green peppers, red onions, and tomatoes from the impacted dates. Produce distributors are being investigated, said the Packer.

Last week, we wrote that The Health Department, said Business Week, was urging those who fell ill after eating at Subway restaurants since May 10 to immediately contact either their health care provider or local health department. Everyone who reported becoming sick said they fell ill between May 11 and May 18 the News-Gazette reported.

Salmonella, the most prevalent food borne pathogen in this country, is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. 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.

Salmonella poisoning can also lead to Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Some Salmonella bacteria are antibiotic resistant, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.

Subway restaurants were implicated in prior food poisoning outbreak. We recently wrote about Shigella cases linked to a Subway in Lombard, Illinois, which reached 116. At least 13 of those sickened were hospitalized. In that case, the Shigella bacteria involved were Shigella sonnei, which can be lethal. The DuPage County Health Department never found the source of the Shigella, and concedes it may never be able to.

Shigella is a genus of bacteria that are a major cause of diarrhea worldwide and is transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food or water, or through person-to-person contact. In the body, Shigella can invade and destroy the cells lining the large intestine, causing mucosal ulceration and bloody diarrhea and can cause fever, abdominal cramps, and rectal pain. Shigellosis can be treated with antibiotics, although some strains have developed drug resistance.

According to the News-Gazette, Subway’s corporate office declined to comment.

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