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Salmonella Sickens People Across U.S.

UPDATE Friday 11/3/06:

Restaurant tomatoes have been identified as the culprit in the Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 183 people across 21 U.S. states and Canada, with 22 hospitalizations.

"We identified tomatoes eaten in restaurants as the cause of this outbreak," said Dr. Christopher Braden, the CDC's Chief of Outbreak Response and Surveillance.

"Now that we have a specific food commodity, FDA has initiated a trace-back," said Dr. David Acheson of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He continued by saying that the FDA would attempt to identify restaurants that had likely spread the disease, and identify who had supplied their tomatoes.

On a more comforting note, this particular outbreak of Salmonella seems to have come and gone. Dr. Braden concluded with this reassuring statement:
"The most recent onset of illness was Oct. 13. We've not received reports of illness with onset more recent than that, and for that reason we do believe that this outbreak is not ongoing at this time. It did occur in the past, and there is no further risk to the public."


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Tuesday 10/31/06:

172 people in 18 states have been sickened in a salmonella outbreak, resulting in 11 hospitalizations.

The outbreak is currently being investigated, and is likely tied to produce. Fresh lettuce and tomatoes have been identified as suspects, though nothing has been confirmed.

In New Hampshire, seven of eight people hospitalized had eaten fresh tomatoes. "That (tomatoes) is a suspect, but we can't say with any surety that that's the source," said Gregory Moore, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

The Salmonella bacterium that cause Salmonella food poisoning can be transmitted by any number of domestic animals, including chickens, cows, pigs, dogs and cats. Animals that carry the disease pass it in their feces, and any food can become contaminated if preparatory conditions or equipment are unsanitary.

Symptoms generally appear about one to two days after infection, and include fever (in 50% of patients), nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps and pain. The illness usually lasts about a week.

"We're very early in the investigation," said Dave Daigle, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No fatalities have been reported.

More information from the CDC on Salmonella is available here.
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