Wisconsin Has 10 Confirmed Salmonella Cases Thought Linked To Tomatoes

Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Jul 03, 2008 in Press Releases

Milwaukee health official finds it unusual source hasn't been found

Wisconsin now has 10 confirmed cases of salmonella food poisoning believed to be linked to bacteria-tainted tomatoes, and the federal government has yet to pinpoint the source nearly three months since the outbreak began.I find this a very unusual and uncharacteristic investigation, Paul Biedrzycki, director of disease control and environmental health for the Milwaukee Health Department, said Wednesday. (The government) usually nails it in three to four weeks at the latest.

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The nationwide outbreak, now encompassing 36 states, began April 10. Illnesses have been reported as recently as June 20.

Recently, many clusters of illnesses were identified in Texas and in other states among people who ate at restaurants, according to an update Tuesday from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those clusters led the CDC to announce this week that the government is broadening its investigation to include food items commonly consumed with tomatoes.

The government has not issued any new warnings about produce items beyond certain types of tomatoes, Biedrzycki said. It has warned consumers to avoid raw red plum, raw red Roma and raw red round tomatoes, plus products containing them, unless they come from a list of tomato-producing states deemed safe.

Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and those sold with the vine still attached are not part of the warning.

As of mid-June, Wisconsin had three confirmed cases of salmonella believed to be caused by tainted tomatoes. The national total has grown from 228 people in 23 states, as of mid-June, to 869 cases in 36 states this week, including 107 hospitalizations, according to the CDC.

Of that number, 179 became ill on June 1 or later, the CDC reported. Patients range in age from less than a year to 99 years; 48% are female. The rate of illness is highest among people ages 20 to 29, and lowest in children 10 to 19 and in people over 80.

No deaths have been officially attributed to the outbreak, according to the CDC.

Only three people infected with this strain of salmonella Saintpaul were identified in the U.S. during the same period of 2007.

The Wisconsin case number could grow.

The City of Milwaukee has reported only one case linked to the outbreak.

But Biedrzycki said 19 cases of Salmonella-related illnesses were reported in Milwaukee County in June, and some are still being sub-typed by the state to determine whether they are of the Saintpaul strain thought to be linked to tomatoes. Seven of the 19 have been cleared and are not related; a dozen are still being investigated.

Biedrzycki said it will take a couple of weeks for final results.

From the July 3, 2008 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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