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Kentucky Resident Affected By National Foodborne Illness Outbreak

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Department for Public Health (DPH) today reported that a Kentucky resident has tested positive for the strain of Salmonella associated with a nationwide foodborne illness outbreak.

The outbreak, which is believed to be linked to the consumption of certain types of raw tomatoes, reportedly began in mid-April and has since led to numerous reports of people infected with Salmonella serotype Saintpaul. Through an epidemiological investigation and confirmatory lab testing, Kentucky public health officials determined that a female resident of Louisville, who became ill with symptoms of a Salmonella infection in May, fit the pattern of the outbreak.

"Foodborne illness is a serious threat to public health. As an added safety measure, we advise that consumers limit their tomato consumption to those not associated with the outbreak," said DPH Commissioner William Hacker, M.D. "Additionally, physicians should report all Salmonella cases to the local health department."

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is collaborating with public health officials in many states, the Indian Health Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the ongoing multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul infections linked to the consumption of raw tomatoes. The specific type and source of tomatoes is under investigation; however, the data suggest that large tomatoes, including Roma and round red, are the source.

In addition to the Kentucky case, 228 people infected with genetically matching strains of Salmonella Saintpaul have been identified in 23 states since mid-April. Other states include: Arizona (19 people), California (2), Colorado (1), Connecticut (1), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Idaho (3), Illinois (29), Indiana (7), Kansas (5), Michigan (2), Missouri (2), New Mexico (55), New York (1), Oklahoma (3), Oregon (3), Tennessee (3), Texas (68), Utah (2), Virginia (9), Vermont (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).

Salmonella infections are relatively common, generally resulting in diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts 4-7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur.

No Kentucky-grown tomatoes have been associated with this outbreak. FDA recommends consuming raw red plum, raw red Roma, or raw red round tomatoes only if grown and harvested in certain states, including Kentucky, that are listed on the FDA Web site.