Salmonella again! It seems our intimate relationship with this bacterium is one that grows stronger with each outbreak. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as of May 21, 2015, a total of fifty three people across nine states were infected with Salmonella with 10 hospitalized. There have been no reported deaths to date.
For over 125 years Salmonella has caused illness as we human beings stand patiently in enduring the seasonal mating dance that sees approximately one million illnesses in the United States, nineteen thousand hospitalizations, and over 300 deaths each year. This particular outbreak is caused by Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L (+) tartrate (+) bacteria rearing its ugly head in: Arizona (10), California (31), Illinois (1), Mississippi (1), New Mexico (6), South Dakota (1), Virginia (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (1).
Currently there is no conclusive source of the outbreak as the CDC continues to collaborate with public health officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate this multistate outbreak of the infection. However, most patients reported having consumed sushi made with raw tuna a week or so before becoming ill. The investigation is ongoing and no particular brand or food chain has been associated with the illness.
The illness onset date ranges from early March to early May this year with people as young as a few months to as old as eighty three. Forty seven person of reported cases are females.
Most people who contract the bacterium experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 72 hours of being infected with Salmonella. The illness can last up to seven days and most recover without treatment, although in severe cases the bacterium can cause death.
The CDC has advised that people at higher risk for serious food illness should not consume any raw fish. These include children younger than five years old and adults over sixty five, and pregnant women.
Salmonella is the most common cause of food poisoning in the United States. With California having a tradition of high sushi consumption, it is no wonder the state reports over 50% of the diagnosed cases so far. This no doubt prompted Director of the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Karen Smith's statement: "This is a good reminder to Californians that there are sometimes risks when eating raw or undercooked meats, fish or poultry."
The FDA says it will increase its monitoring of tuna and is in the process of tracing the origin of the outbreak in finding a possible common source.
In the mean time, clinicians employ antibiotics in the treatment of the infection and fluids for diarrhea as an effective treatment for Salmonella poisoning.
So, sushi anyone?
This video gives a brief description of the Salmonella outbreak and a demographic of regions affected. The clip goes further in describing consumption of raw tuna as the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella poisoning.
(Sources: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN, The Big Story, Time.)