Michigan Confirms Nineteen Salmonella Cases

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has confirmed 19 cases in connection with the current Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak that has occurred in multiple states and is associated with the consumption of fresh tomatoes and possibly other fresh food.

The cases, with an age range of 2 years old to 78 years old, are present in nine Michigan counties including Berrien (1), Clinton (1), Eaton (3), Ingham (6), Kent (2), Ottawa (1), Shiawassee (2), Washtenaw (1), and Wayne (2). Five of the residents have been hospitalized including one from Berrien County, one from Eaton County, one from Ottawa County and two from Ingham County. Their recovery status is unknown. Information on two cases is not immediately available. The remaining residents are recovering.

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Although evidence continues to demonstrate a strong link to certain raw tomatoes, there is now information that consuming raw jalepeno and serrano peppers and cilantro may be linked to the illnesses in this continuing outbreak. The elderly, people with weak immune systems and infants are advised not eat raw jalapeno and serrano peppers as they are at highest risk of severe illness from salmonella. Serrano peppers are on the warning list because they're hard to distinguish from jalapeno peppers.

Both MDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue to advise consumers to limit their tomato consumption to specific types of tomatoes and from specific sources. These include locally grown tomatoes; cherry tomatoes; grape tomatoes; tomatoes sold with the vine still attached; tomatoes grown at home; and red plum, red Roma, and round red tomatoes from specific sources. Consumers should be aware that raw tomatoes are often used in the preparation of fresh salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo; are part of fillings for tortillas, and are used in many other dishes.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) is working in close cooperation with FDA in conducting survelliance inspections and sampling of tomatoes, jalepeno and serrano peppers as well as cilantro. Additionally, MDA is working in close cooperation with federal food safety partners to advise Michigan's food industry and consumers to take necessary precautions regarding this foodborne illness outbreak. MDCH continues to work in cooperation with federal and local health authorities in Michigan to identify and investigate illnesses that may be associated with this outbreak.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections particularly in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, the organism can get into the bloodstream and produce more severe illnesses. Consumers who have recently eaten raw tomatoes or foods containing raw tomatoes and are experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their health care provider. All Salmonella infections should be reported to state or local health authorities.

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