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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

CDC Announces 38 State Salmonella Montevideo Outbreak

From a CDC post of a few moments ago:

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella serotype Montevideo infections. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.

As of January 22, 2010, a total of 184 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Montevideo have been reported from 38 states since July 1, 2009. The number of ill persons identified in each state with this strain is as follows: AL (2), AZ (5), CA (30), CO (2), CT (4), DE (2), FL (2), GA (3), IA (1), IL (11), IN (3), KS (3), LA (1), MA (12), MD (1), ME (1), MI (1), MN (4), NC (9), ND (1), NE (1), NH (1), NJ (7), NY (15), OH (9), OK (1), OR (8), PA (3), RI (2), SC (1), SD (3), TN (3), TX (7), UT (7), VA (1), WA (14), WV (1), and WY (2). Because this is a commonly occurring strain, public health investigators may determine that some of the illnesses are not part of this outbreak.

Among the persons with reported dates available, illnesses began between July 2, 2009 and January 1, 2010. Infected individuals range in age from <1 year old to 88 years old and the median age is 37 years. Fifty-two percent of patients are male. Among the 125 patients with available information, 35 (28%) were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Although I blogged earlier:

Since it is Friday, expect a recall tonight (or over the weekend) from FSIS on a meat-like product (Daniele Salami) contaminated with Salmonella Montevideo that has sickened over 200, with some 30 hospitalized in several states. The outbreak has been ongoing for months.

It appears the FSIS went home early tonight and decided not to tell us which salami is contaminated or not.  Here is what the CDC says:

A widely distributed contaminated food product might cause illnesses across the United States. The identity of the contaminated product often is not readily apparent. In outbreaks like this one, identification of the contaminated product requires conducting detailed standardized interviews with persons who were ill. It may also require conducting interviews with non-ill members of the public ("controls") to get information about foods recently eaten and other exposures to compare with information from the ill persons. The investigation is often supplemented by laboratory testing of suspected products. In addition, investigators sometimes use purchase information provided by ill persons to trace suspect products back to the point of production. This process is labor intensive and typically takes weeks. It is not always successful. As soon as a source of the outbreak is identified, if there is evidence of ongoing risk, public health officials advise the public to avoid the implicated product and recalls are conducted when appropriate. CDC and its public health partners are vigorously working to identify the specific contaminated product or products that are causing illnesses and will update the public on the progress of this investigation as information becomes available.

Boy, how helpful is that?  Our government is telling us perhaps not to consume Salmonella-tainted food that is a "widely distributed contaminated food product [that] might cause illnesses across the United States," but seems incapable of telling us what that "widely distributed contaminated food product [that] might cause illnesses across the United States" is?  WTF!