Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Federal officials are searching for the source of a 17-state salmonella outbreak linked to three types of raw tomatoes, while the list of supermarkets and restaurants pulling those varieties from shelves and menus keep growing.

McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Burger King, Kroger, Outback Steakhouse, Winn-Dixie and Taco Bell were among the companies that voluntarily withdrew red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes.

Aso, federal officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District the nation's second largest said Monday they have suspended serving uncooked tomatoes.

The FDA is investigating the source of the Tomato outbreak, The FDA went on to say "We are working hard and fast on this one and hope to have something as quickly as possible," .

Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and homegrown tomatoes are likely not the source of the outbreak, federal officials said.

Also not affecting the outbreak are raw red Roma, red plum and round red tomatoes from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands and Puerto Rico.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that since mid-April, 167 people infected with salmonella with the same "genetic fingerprint" have been identified. At least 23 people have been hospitalized.

A 67-year-old cancer patient in Texas at a Mexican restaurant is believed to be the first death associated with the outbreak.

Raul Rivera died last week and the salmonella strain was a contributing factor.

Rivera's wife said he was hospitalized after eating pico de gallo, a tomato-based condiment.

Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. The bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.

The salmonella causing the outbreak is a very unusual type called salmonella saintpaul, said FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, who added it was not more virulent than other types of salmonella.

Salmonella symptoms begin with nausea and vomiting and progress to abdominal pains and diarrhea. Additional signs and symptoms include fever, chills and muscle pains, and can last anywhere from several days to two weeks.

People with salmonella-induced bacteremia may show few symptoms; however, fever can be present. If you have intestinal salmonella and you have a healthy immune system, you may not seem ill or show signs or symptoms. However, you may continue to shed the bacteria in your feces and remain contagious for up to a year.

You can contract salmonella infection by touching or ingesting anything contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Reservoirs for the microorganism include pet reptiles, dogs and cats, pigs and cattle, infected humans, contaminated water, raw dairy products and chicken eggs. Salmonella can survive for months in water, ice, sewage and frozen meat.

Most frequently, humans come in contact with salmonella through food sources such as contaminated poultry, meat, eggs and egg products.

McDonald's, the world's largest hamburger chain, stopped serving sliced tomatoes on its sandwiches, but will continue serving grape tomatoes in its salads because no problems have been linked to that variety.

The simplest way to diagnose salmonella infection is to isolate the bacteria in a stool or other culture. Typically, your doctor will ask for a stool sample and send it to a laboratory, where a technician will try to grow and identify the infectious organism under a microscope.

Although salmonella infection elsewhere in your body isn't always present in your bloodstream, a blood culture might help identify certain types of bacteria and rule out other pathogens



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