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True Toll From Salmonella Tomatoes Will Never Be Known

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No one will ever know how many people were sickened by this year’s tomato Salmonella outbreak, but a report says that the the true number could be well over 8000.   The  Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has so far confirmed 277 cases of Salmonella St. Paul in 28 states and the District of Columbia, but unfortunately, the vast number of Salmonella incidents are never reported to health authorities.

Salmonella is a potentially deadly type of food poisoning, symptoms of which include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days. In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Reiter’s Syndrome can plague its victims for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.

According to a report on Seattlepi.com, the CDC estimates that as many as 8500 people might eventually become sick in this outbreak. No one will ever know the true number of illnesses caused by Salmonella tainted tomatoes, because health officials are never notified of most illnesses. Many people with a mild case of Salmonella poisoning won’t seek medical attention, and among those that do, testing of stool samples – the only way to confirm Salmonella – is never done.

So far, the states affected by the tomato Salmonella outbreak include: Arkansas (2 persons), Arizona (19), California (6), Colorado (1), Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Georgia (7), Idaho (3), Illinois (34), Indiana (7), Kansas (8), Kentucky (1), Maryland (1), Michigan (2), Missouri (4), New Mexico (68), New York (2), North Carolina (1), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (4), Oregon (3), Tennessee (4), Texas (68), Utah (2), Virginia (16), Vermont (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (5), and the District of Columbia (1).

The CDC said reports of the illnesses were made between April 10 and June 5, and the CDC considers the outbreak to be ongoing, because new reports of Salmonella poisoning are still being made. At least 43 victims have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been “officially” attributed to Salmonella tainted tomatoes. However, a man in his sixties who died in Texas from cancer was infected with Salmonella St. Paul at the time of his death. The CDC says the infection may have contributed to his death.

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