The last 48 hours at Marler Clark have been interesting – we have responded to nearly 1,000 emails or phone calls (thanks to a very hardworking staff) from every part of the United States (and two foreign countries) – people do eat a lot of peanut butter – some of it was surely contaminated with Salmonella.
The accents are all different – North Dakota, Georgia, Massachusetts – but all tell a similar story of vomiting, diarrhea and fever. Some people, and a lot of kids, had repeated bouts of illness. Hundreds that we have spoken to spent time with their doctors or in ERs, and many have been hospitalized. Many folks did not have insurance and simply could not seek medical care because they could not afford it.
What is also interesting is that, although many of the callers report symptoms consistent with salmonella poisoning, only about 10% report testing positive for Salmonella in their stool. However, most report still having jars of peanut butter with the 2111 code imprinted on the lid. We look forward to testing the product.
This outbreak only underscores the problems with food poisoning surveillance in the Untied States. People who are sick may or may not seek medical attention, perhaps because they cannot afford it, or perhaps because they wanted to just care for themselves or their children. So, no stool culture, no contact with the Health Department, no way to figure out what the cause of the outbreak is. Not figuring out the cause of the outbreak means that we are bound to repeat it