The illness toll in the ongoing Salmonella outbreak has now reached 116 people. Those who have reported falling ill have grown from 93 in less than two weeks. Sushi has been considered a potential culprit, but no origin to this outbreak, which is growing, has been confirmed.
Striking nationwide, the newest case was reported in Illinois, where nine other illnesses have been reported, said the state Department of Public Health, according to the Chicago Tribune. This Salmonella outbreak involves the fairly rare strain Salmonella Bareilly and has been reported in 20 states and Washington DC, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those sickened, 12 have been hospitalized; no deaths have been reported.
New York has seen the greatest illnesses, with 24 people reportedly ill. The Wall Street Journal previously said that most of those sickened in New York are from the New York City area. Wisconsin reports 12 and Maryland, 11. The Chicago Tribune noted that this outbreak has been linked to illnesses reported from January 28 through March 31 according to the CDC.
“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.
As we recently wrote, 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. Salmonella Bareilly, is most commonly linked to bean sprouts.
According to an internal U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) memo, spicy tuna roll sushi was considered “highly suspect”; however, FDA spokesman, Curtis Allen, who initially confirmed the memo’s contents to MSNBC, noted that the document was inadvertently sent to everyone at the agency and stressed that this is only an initial speculation. The agency said that it and the CDC were collaborating to locate the cause and magnitude of the outbreak and that the federal agencies are looking at six so-called restaurant clusters located in Texas, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Connecticut.
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.