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Officials Seek Source of Salmonella Outbreak; Sushi Eyed as Culprit

(Atlanta, GA) -- Federal and state health officials are investigating a Salmonella outbreak in 19 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Atlanta, GA) -- Federal and state health officials are investigating a Salmonella outbreak in 19 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reports 90 people in 19 states and the District of Columbia have been sickened by an unusual strain of the bacteria called Salmonella Bareilly. The CDC has not yet released which states are involved.

The first case report of this particular food-borne illness was reported on January 28. The most recent case was reported Monday.

"CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella serotype Bareilly infections," CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said in a statement to CNN.

News of the investigation first surfaced late Tuesday when an internal memo was inadvertently sent to everyone at the FDA, according to FDA spokesman Curtis Allen. He says the memo speculates about a possible source of contamination -- sushi -- but he says the FDA doesn't know the origins of the outbreak is at this time.

According to the CDC, state public health officials are interviewing those who became ill to find out what they may have eaten and been exposed to in the week before they got sick. This is the how investigations into food-borne illnesses are typically conducted.

Russell said that,"on initial interviews, many of the ill persons reported consuming sushi, sashimi, or similar foods in a variety of locations in the week before becoming ill." However, it is still early in the investigation.

According to the CDC, consumers are not being told to avoid any particular food or restaurants. Once a particular food is identified for this outbreak, the public will be notified, according to a CDC statement.

Consumers are advised to contact their doctor if they believe they became ill from eating potentially contaminated food.

Salmonella infections lead to diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after someone is exposed to the bacteria, and the sickness can last from 4 to 7 days, according to health officials. The oldest and youngest patients and those with a weakened immune system are the most likely to suffer severe complications from a Salmonella infection.

Phyllis Entis, author of eFoodAlert, reports that Texas, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Missouri, New York and Louisiana have reported cases that are linked to the outbreak, but the 11 other states haven't been identified. Louisiana health officials told Entis their first case patients became ill in mid-February; New York says its first outbreak patient became ill on March 1. 

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