No end in sight as more people sick from contaminated tomatos
June 28, 2008
The victim count in the tainted tomato outbreak has risen dramatically again, according to the latest U.S. health count. The CDC days it now has 810 reports of persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul in 34 states and the District of Columbia. More than 300 of the cases come from Texas.
At least 95 people have been hospitalized. Patients range in age from 1-99.
According to the latest CDC numbers, the victim count breaks down by state to: Arkansas (10 persons), Arizona (38), California (10), Colorado (6), Connecticut (4), Florida (1), Georgia (15), Idaho (3), Illinois (66), Indiana (11), Kansas (11), Kentucky (1), Maryland (25), Massachusetts (17), Michigan (4), Missouri (12), New Hampshire (3), Nevada (4), New Jersey (4), New Mexico (80), New York (18), North Carolina (5), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (17), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (6), Rhode Island (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (330), Utah (2), Virginia (22), Vermont (1), Washington (4), Wisconsin (6), and the District of Columbia (1).
Last Friday, Dr. David Acheson, the FDA’s associate commissioner for food protection, said the investigation into the outbreak had zeroed in on “a number of farms” in both Florida and Mexico.
“These farms along with their associated distribution chains are going to be part of an ongoing investigation,” he added, noting, “We do not have a specific farm involved in the contamination; we have to look at the whole chain.”
Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea in humans. Some 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States each year, although the CDC estimates that because milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be 30 or more times greater. Approximately 600 people die each year after being infected.
However, the strain of Salmonella Saintpaul had been previously considered rare. In 2007, according to the CDC, there were only three people infected in the country during April through June.
FDA is advising U.S. consumers to limit their tomato consumption to those that are not the likely source of this outbreak. These include cherry tomatoes; grape tomatoes; tomatoes sold with the vine still attached; tomatoes grown at home; and red plum, red Roma, and round red tomatoes from specific sources listed at: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html. Consumers should be aware that raw tomatoes are often used in the preparation of fresh salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo, are part of fillings for tortillas, and are used in many other dishes.