Salmonellosis Outbreak Prompts CDC Reminder to Report Foodborne Illnesses


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Strain Implicated in Infections Is Susceptible to Antimicrobials, Say Health Officials

By News Staff

An outbreak of salmonellosis linked to peanut products contaminated with Salmonella serotype Typhimurium has produced 550 reports of illness in 43 states and one report in Canada, according to the CDC.

More than 500 illnesses have been reported in 43 states in an ongoing outbreak of illness caused by Salmonella serotype Typhimurium. Public health officials have traced the contamination back to peanuts and peanut products from a Blakely, Ga., processing plant.

As of Feb. 2, more than 100 hospitalizations had been reported to the agency, and eight deaths have been linked to the outbreak to date. Although the rate of case reports has slowed in the past two to three weeks (the most recently reported date of illness onset was Jan. 17), CDC officials say the outbreak is ongoing.

Public Health Officials Emphasize Need to Report

According to the CDC, physicians should report foodborne illnesses to their county or city health departments. "Rapid investigation of apparently localized outbreaks can provide critical clues to solving large and dispersed national outbreaks," said the agency in a Jan. 29 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, or MMWR, Early Release article.

"This outbreak illustrates again the central importance of the capacity to perform Salmonella serotyping and molecular subtyping in public health laboratories for detecting and investigating outbreaks, and the critical value of rapid epidemiologic and regulatory investigative capacity," the MMWR report said.

The report also noted that the outbreak strain is "fully susceptible to all antimicrobials in the National Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring System panel for gram-negative bacteria."

Product Recall List Continues to Grow

More than 400 products -- peanuts, granulated peanuts, peanut meal, peanut paste, peanut butter and products containing peanut butter -- have been recalled, according to the FDA. More products are being added to the list each day.

Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said during a Jan. 30 conference call that his agency and the Department of Justice have launched a criminal investigation into the Blakely, Ga.-based Peanut Corporation of America, which investigators have identified as the source of the tainted products.

Meanwhile, the CDC has issued several pieces of advice for consumers that clinicians may wish to reinforce.

                         People who have recalled products in their homes should discard the products.

                         Consumers also should avoid eating products made with peanut butter or peanut paste if they are unsure whether these products have been recalled.

                         National brands of jarred peanut butter sold in grocery stores have not been implicated in this outbreak.

                         Consumers with pets should know that some pet foods and pet treats, including dog biscuits and bird food, may contain peanut butter. If consumers have a recalled pet product in the household, they should not feed it to their pet or other animals.

                         Consumers can search the list of recalled products at the FDA Web site if they are unsure whether a certain product is included in the recall. Alternatively, they can telephone the company that distributed the product at the phone number shown on the package.

                         Consumers without Internet access can call (800) CDC-INFO 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for product recall information and for other information on the outbreak.

                         Persons who think they might have become ill from eating peanut butter or peanut-containing products should consult their doctor.

                         Infants, elderly individuals and people with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness from ingesting contaminated peanut products.



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