A recent salmonella outbreak with no identified food source has seen infection rates more than double in less than a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on Sept. 15 that 127 persons had been infected with salmonella in 25 states, resulting in 18 hospitalizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed Thursday that the number of reported infections had more than doubled: 279 people have been afflicted. The outbreak has spread to four additional states. Eight other persons have been hospitalized as a result of salmonella.
On Sept. 2, 20 persons became ill after contracting the Salmonella Oranienburg strain. Since then, the CDC reports that the outbreak has “grown rapidly.”
Although no one food source has been identified as the source of the outbreak, state and local officials in afflicted areas collected food samples from restaurants where sick patrons dined and detected salmonella in a sauce bowl holding cilantro and lime. The bowl also had onions, but they were not present when the dish was examined.
“Because multiple food items were present in the container and in the sample that was tested, it is not possible to know which food item was contaminated. We are using this information in conjunction with other available information to help narrow the list of possible foods linked to illness,” the agency announced in a statement.
Health experts believe the actual number of illnesses is significantly higher than recorded, as some people recover from salmonella without seeking medical attention and thus are not tested. Additionally, it can take up to four weeks to ascertain whether an individual was involved in an outbreak.
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According to CDC data, the outbreak has spread throughout the United States; Texas, with 81 cases, and Oklahoma, with 40, have the most. Other states with outbreaks include Illinois, which has 23, Virginia, which has 22; and Minnesota, which has 19. Infected individuals ranged in age from less than a year to 89 years; 59% of sick individuals are female. There have been no reported fatalities.
Salmonella infection symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps, and dehydration, which can occur six hours to six days after exposure to the bacteria. Without treatment, the majority of patients recover within four to seven days.
Salmonella may cause more severe disease in children under the age of five, persons 65 years and older, and those with compromised immune systems.
Around 862,000 pounds of uncured antipasto products were recalled last month due to the possibility of salmonella contamination, which caused illness in persons in 17 states.
The CDC recommends that consumers take food safety precautions such as cleaning equipment, hands, and meals, as well as segregating various foods and cooking all food to an adequate temperature. The government also advises consumers to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours of purchase and to thaw frozen meals in a refrigerator.