Salmonella outbreak more than doubles; CDC identifies potential source

·2 min read

A recent salmonella outbreak with no known food source has more than doubled in infections in over a week.

On Sept. 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 127 people in 25 states had been infected with salmonella, resulting in 18 hospitalizations. On Thursday, the CDC announced the number of reported illness had more than doubled: 279 people have been sickened, and the outbreak has reached another four states. An additional eight people have now been hospitalized because of salmonella.

On Sept. 2, 20 people were reported sick by the strain of Salmonella Oranienburg. Since then, the CDC says the outbreak has "grown rapidly."

No food source has been attributed to the outbreak, but state and local officials from infected states have collected food samples from restaurants where sick people ate and found salmonella in a condiment cup containing cilantro and lime. The cup also had onions, but they weren't inside when the food was tested.

"Because multiple food items were present in the container and in the sample that was tested, it is not possible to know which food item was contaminated. We are using this information in conjunction with other available information to help narrow the list of possible foods linked to illness," the agency said in a statement.

Health officials also believe true number of infections is much higher than reported as some people recover from salmonella without medical care and therefore are not tested for it. It can also takes up to four weeks to determine whether someone was part of an outbreak.

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CDC data shows the outbreak has stretched across the U.S.; Texas, 81, and Oklahoma, 40, have the most cases. Other notable states with outbreaks include Illinois, 23, Virginia, 22, and Minnesota, 19. The infected people have ranged in age from less than a year old to 89 years old; 59% of sick people are females. No deaths have been reported.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps and dehydration, which can begin six hours to six days after being exposed to the bacteria, according to the CDC. Most people recover without treatment after four to seven days.

Children under the age of 5, people 65 years and older and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe illness from salmonella.

Last month, 862,000 pounds of uncured antipasto products were recalled for possible salmonella contamination that caused sickness in people across 17 states.

The CDC recommends people practice food safety measures such as cleaning utensils, hands and foods, as well as separating different foods and making sure all food is cooked to a high enough temperature. The agency also recommends refrigerating perishable foods within two hours and thawing foods in a refrigerator.

Contributing: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CDC: Salmonella outbreak doubles, cilantro and lime possible sources