Salmonella outbreak traced to Neb. alfalfa sprouts
Source of Article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-ne-salmonellaoutbrea,0,5027016.story
MARGERY A. GIBBS | Associated Press Writer
11:14 AM CST, March 3, 2009
OMAHA, Neb. - Nebraska health
officials say a recent outbreak of salmonella in eastern Nebraska
and parts of Iowa has been traced to
locally grown alfalfa sprouts.
As of Tuesday, the Nebraska health
department had confirmed 14 cases in Nebraska
-- eight in Douglas
County, four in Sarpy
and one each in Cass and Lancaster
counties. Officials also have isolated four more probable cases.
There are 8 to 10 more cases of salmonella that are suspected from the same
chief medical officer Joann Schaefer said during a Tuesday news conference.
A news release Tuesday from the Iowa Department of Public Health said five
cases had been confirmed and at least four other cases are suspected from the
salmonella St. Paul
"They're spread all across
the state," said Polly Carver-Kimm, a
spokeswoman with the Iowa
department. "The DNA fingerprint of the salmonella is the same as the Nebraska cases, and
all of the people involved have similar exposure to alfalfa sprouts."
cases were reported from Feb. 2 to Feb. 23, Schaefer said.
The strain of salmonella isolated by health officials has been traced to CW
Sprouts in Douglas
County, she said. The
sprouts were marketed as Sun Sprouts and went to restaurants and grocery
Schaefer said the company has voluntarily recalled the sprouts.
While the health department recommended consumers wash all fruits and
vegetables before consumption, Schaefer acknowledged that doing so likely
would not have prevented the most recent outbreak.
Schaefer said officials believe the salmonella was probably within the
alfalfa sprouts, and therefore, could not be washed off.
"The company does all sorts of washing procedures in its plant,"
Schaefer said. "It's state of the art. It's probably one of the cleanest
facilities we've seen."
Salmonella poisoning can cause diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain
and vomiting. Most cases are caused by undercooked eggs and chicken.
About 40,000 cases are reported each year in the U.S., but
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates that the actual number of infections may be 30 times higher because
many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported.
On the Net:
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.hhs.state.ne.us/
Iowa Health Department: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/
CDC's salmonella page: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/