Salmonella investigations carried on sources other than tomatoes

2008-06-30 15:05:16 (GMT) ( - Health News News)

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Denver, Colorado ( — On June 27th, federal health officials said that they have been working to find out the cause of the salmonella outbreak that swept several southern states as it may be linked with something other than tomatoes which were formerly considered to be causing the illness.

Dr. Patricia Griffin, chief of Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, said that investigating the produce is very difficult because many vegetables are consumed together at one time. Therefore, it is not easy to track a single item to be a contamination source. She also said that they have been keeping an open view about the sources of this illness. Dr. David Acheson, the associate commissioner of foods at the FDA, said that although there are strong epidemiological associations with tomatoes, they have also been investigating other components.

Due to the wide-spread scare of salmonella, a large number of grocery stores pulled tomatoes from their shelves and many restaurants stopped using tomatoes as ingredients in their recipes. The CDC said that the outbreak, linked with a rare bacterium known as Salmonella Saintpaul, has widened to include more than 800 cases in around 36 states including the District of Columbia. Griffin said that there are no signs of reduction as there are still reports coming up of new illnesses. The last report of salmonella outbreak came on June 15th.

The investigation team is going to focus on warehouses, fields and the distribution centers in Florida and Mexico which are suspected to be the sources of the outbreak. Acheson said that they have gathered nearly 1,700 samples of tomatoes all of which have proved to be negative.

He also said that finding the sources of the illness is quite complicated because the processors repack around 90% of the tomatoes and it is not an uncommon practice to pack imported as well as domestic tomatoes in a single box. The bacterium may cause fever, diarrhea, headache, abdominal pain, dehydration and nausea, and may sometimes prove to be fatal. - Press Release Distribution Service


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