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1017 Sickened in Salmonella Outbreak

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The number of Salmonella victims has now surpassed 1,000, making it the largest food poisoning outbreak this country has seen in a decade. Health officials have also identified fresh Jalapeno peppers as a possible source of the outbreak, and are also investigating Serrano peppers and fresh cilantro.

So far, the Food & Drug Administration has not changed its advice that consumers should avoid certain raw red plum, red Roma, or round red tomatoes or any products containing them unless they are known to have come from a geographic area cleared of any connection to the outbreak. While it has not issued any official warning on jalapeno and Serrano peppers, or cilantro, people most vulnerable to Salmonella – including the elderly, infants and people with weak immune systems- are being told to avoid these foods.

Since mid-April, 1,017 Salmonella St. Paul infections have been reported in 41 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. So far, illnesses have been reported in Alabama (2 persons), Arkansas (14), Arizona (49), California (9), Colorado (13), Connecticut (4), Florida (2), Georgia (24), Idaho (4), Illinois (100), Indiana (14), Iowa (2), Kansas (17), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Maryland (29), Massachusetts (25), Michigan (8), Minnesota (15), Missouri (12), New Hampshire (4), Nevada (11), New Jersey (9), New Mexico (98), New York (28), North Carolina (10), Ohio (8), Oklahoma (24), Oregon (10), Pennsylvania (11), Rhode Island (3), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (8), Texas (384), Utah (2), Virginia (29), Vermont (2), Washington (11), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (11), and the District of Columbia (1). Four ill persons are reported from Canada; three appear to have been infected while traveling in the United States, and one illness remains under investigation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least 203 victims were hospitalized. Health officials also say that the death in a man in Texas in his eighties has been associated with this outbreak. In addition, the CDC says that Salmonella may have contributed to the death of cancer patient in that state.

Though certain types of raw tomatoes are still prime suspects in the Salmonella St. Paul outbreak, the CDC now says that jalapeno and Serrano peppers could also be implicated. According to the CDC, many clusters of Salmonella have been reported among victims who ate at restaurants. The CDC’s investigation into three of those clusters revealed that in two, the victims reported eating a food containing fresh jalapeno peppers. Interviewees in the third cluster reported eating an item that contained both fresh tomatoes and fresh jalapeno peppers. In addition to jalapeno peppers and raw tomatoes, the CDC is also investigating fresh cilantro and fresh Serrano peppers.

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