Seriously, which “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A” has restaurants in all these states?

As the CDC reported as of January 19, 2012, a total of 68 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from 10 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain was as follows: Texas (43), Oklahoma (16), Kansas (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (1), Ohio (1), and Tennessee (1).  Also according to the CDC, collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health agencies indicated that eating food from a “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A,” was associated with some illnesses.  The mystery restaurant was not named.

080410_baildon_map.jpgEerily familiar were two Salmonella Outbreaks reported by the CDC on August 1, 2010.  One, a total of 75 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Hartford were reported from 15 states since April 1, 2010. The number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: CO (1), FL (1), GA (1), IL (5), IN (11), KY (23), MA (2), MI (3), MT (1), NC (1), NH (1), NY (1), OH (19), PA (1), and WI (4).  The other a total of 80 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Baildon were reported from 15 states since May 1, 2010. The081710_hartford_map.jpg number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: CT (1), GA (1), IA (1), IL (20), IN (4), KY (5), MA (1), MI (4), MN (5), NJ (6), NY (2), OH (6), OR (1), WA (1) and WI (22).  According to the CDC, an analysis indicated that eating at a “Mexican-style fast food Restaurant Chain A” was associated with illness.  Within a few days, Taco Bell, a “Mexican-style fast food restaurant” was identified by Food Safety News and others.

So, how long until the “Mexican-style fast food restaurant” is identified?  And, more importantly, why was it not disclosed in the first place?

Dear Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Tennessee Departments of Health:

With respect to the recent CDC report involving a Salmonella Outbreak linked to “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A” (http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/restaurant-enteriditis/011912/index.html), can you tell me the identity of the restaurant?  If not, can you explain the Department of Public Health’s rationale for non-disclosure?

I wonder if public health officials would have identified the actual restaurant (McDonalds) in the below 1982 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak if the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak would have happened?

Hemorrhagic colitis associated with a rare Escherichia coli serotype.  N Engl J Med. 1983 Mar 24; 308 (12): 681-5. Riley LW, Remis RS, Helgerson SD, McGee HB, Wells JG, Davis BR, Hebert RJ, Olcott ES, Johnson LM, Hargrett NT, Blake PA, Cohen ML.

We investigated two outbreaks of an unusual gastrointestinal illness that affected at least 47 people in Oregon and Michigan in February through March and May through June 1982. The illness was characterized by severe crampy abdominal pain, initially watery diarrhea followed by grossly bloody diarrhea, and little or no fever. It was associated with eating at restaurants belonging to the same fast-food restaurant chain in Oregon (P less than 0.005) and Michigan (P = 0.0005) and with eating any of three sandwiches containing three ingredients in common (beef patty, rehydrated onions, and pickles). Stool cultures did not yield previously recognized pathogens. However, a rare Escherichia coli serotype, O157:H7, that was not invasive or toxigenic by standard tests was isolated from 9 of 12 stools collected within four days of onset of illness in both outbreaks combined, and from a beef patty from a suspected lot of meat in Michigan. The only known previous isolation of this serotype was from a sporadic case of hemorrhagic colitis in 1975. This report describes a clinically distinctive gastrointestinal illness associated with E. coli O157:H7, apparently transmitted by undercooked meat.