Dry Dog Food Tainted with Salmonella Tied to Outbreak of Food Poisoning in 18 StatesAug 30, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found strong evidence linking recalled dried pet food manufactured by the Mars Petcare US company to a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella. Sixty-six people in 18 states have been sickened by Salmonella Schwarzengrund, the same strain that was detected in Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula and Krasdale Gravy dry dog foods recalled by Mars Petcare last week.
While there have been no direct links found between any of the 66 Salmonella cases and the dog foods, the CDC said that the Schwarzengrund strain was found in stool samples from dogs of two patients with Salmonella poisoning. Both dogs had eaten the recalled dog food. The CDC also said that its study of the outbreak had found that households with ill persons were significantly more likely to have recently purchased one of the brands of recalled dry dog foods than households without ill persons. Also, the Pennsylvania Health Department found traces of Schwarzengrund Salmonella at the southwestern Pennsylvania factory that produced the food. That plant has been closed until the source of the Salmonella contamination can be found and eliminated.
The Salmonella outbreak associated with the Mars Petcare foods has sickened people in 18 states over the last year-and-a-half. Pennsylvania has been hardest hit, with 25 cases. Other states that have seen outbreaks of this Salmonella strain include New York (12 cases), Ohio (6 cases), Massachusetts (5 cases), Maine, North Dakota, Virginia, Minnesota (2 cases each), Alabama, California, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and North Carolina (1 case each). The CDC said that 39-percent of those infected with Schwarzengrund Salmonella were a year old or younger. Ten patients were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.
Salmonella is a potentially deadly type of food poisoning, symptoms of which included fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Reiter’s Syndrome can plague its victims for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.
The CDC said that it is continuing to receive reports of Salmonella poisoning related to the recalled dog food, and it considers this an active outbreak. It could be several more weeks or months before this Salmonella outbreak runs its course and many more people could become sick as a result. For that reason, the CDC is reminding consumers to wash their hands thoroughly in hot soapy water for twenty seconds after handling any pet food, and to keep infants and other children away from pet food and pet feeding areas.
This Mars Petcare dry dog food Salmonella outbreak is only the most recent outbreak of this food borne illness this year. Peanut butter, snack mix and fresh spinach have all been linked to outbreaks of the disease. The CDC says that every year, approximately 40,000 cases of Salmonella poisoning are reported in the United States. But since many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be thirty or more times greater.