Health Department investigating Salmonella outbreak

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009, 1:25 PM

By Matt Kelley

The Iowa Department of Public Health is investigating a salmonella outbreak in the state and spokeswoman Dr. Ann Garvey says it has -no- connection to the recent outbreak involving peanuts and peanut butter.

Garvey says, "We have five confirmed cases and about four cases pending and it appears the salmonella contamination is related to consumption of alfalfa sprouts." Garvey says the cases are in several Iowa cities, in all areas of the state, and could not provide specific locations. She says if Iowans have alfalfa sprouts in their refrigerators, they should be on the safe side and throw them out.

"We're recommending that Iowans don't eat alfalfa sprouts until the source of the contamination can be confirmed and more information is available," Garvey says. "What we really want people to know is, if you're feeling ill and you're having symptoms, you should see your health care provider." Symptoms of salmonella include: fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. The illness can last four-to-seven days and most people recover without treatment, but severe illness may occur in the very young, the elderly, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.

Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Garvey says the investigation began last Friday and continued through the weekend. "We're still looking into it and the investigation is ongoing, but as soon as we get additional information, we'll get that out to the public," Garvey says. "For now, we're just recommending people don't eat the alfalfa sprouts they have or throw them away." Several salmonella cases are also reported in Nebraska which appear to be from the same strain.

Nebraska officials have identified a possible source of the alfalfa as C-W Sprouts, doing business as Sunsprouts, which are sold in grocery stores and also distributed to restaurants. In Nebraska, 14 cases are confirmed, perhaps 14 more are being checked out. All are in eastern Nebraska, including Omaha, Lincoln and the following counties: Douglas, Sarpy, Cass and Lancaster. For more information on the illness, visit this page of the Iowa Department of Public Health website.



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