According to Food Safety News, there are now 11 confirmed Salmonella Poona cases with identical genetic markers, and two suspected cases have been identified, the department reported. Those sickened are being interviewed to obtain information about foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before their illnesses began.
The cases were reported from Cascade, Fergus, Flathead, Gallatin, Lewis & Clark, Park, Musselshell and Yellowstone counties in Montana.
“Every effort is being made to identify a common source quickly and to protect consumers from any products or practices that may be unsafe,” said Dana Fejes, a DPHHS foodborne epidemiologist.
Public health officials are looking at store-bought cucumbers as possibly being the source, but weren’t yet sure where they might have come from, a DPHHS spokesman told Food Safety News on Friday. He noted that S. Poona rarely makes an appearance in Big Sky Country.
Food Safety News reported earlier this year that at least 275 people in 29 states and Washington, D.C., were sickened and one man died in a Salmonella outbreak linked to cucumbers grown in the Delmarva region of Maryland, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Friday.
This is the first public mention of the outbreak, which occurred between May 20 and Sept. 30, 2014.
CDC began investigating the outbreak in August, when a cluster of Salmonella Newport illnesses showed up on PulseNet, the national database of transmittable diseases. Salmonella with that particular genetic code last appeared on PulseNet in an outbreak from 2006-2007 linked to tomatoes grown in the Delmarva region of Virginia.
Thirty-four percent of patients were hospitalized. One elderly man was diagnosed with bacteremia and died.
After CDC and local and state health officials traced the infections back to cucumbers grown at a farm in Delmarva — several months after harvest — they began testing soil and manure samples but couldn’t find any remaining contamination. However, investigators did learn that the farm applied poultry litter approximately 120 days before harvest.