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Salmonella Confirmed in 10, Suspected in Dozens More, at Princeton University

May 7, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Salmonella cases at Princeton University now number at least 10, and as many as 73 other people are showing symptoms of the food-borne illness.  So far, investigators have not been able to link the Salmonella to any one source, but they continue interviewing victims with both confirmed and suspected cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Salmonella bacteria sicken 40,000 people every year. Although the true number could be much higher, because it is estimated that for every case of Salmonella poisoning reported, two others are unreported.  Salmonella causes fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days. 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. In rare cases, Salmonella can cause a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination.

A spokesperson for the Ivy League school told the Princeton Packet that the university’s dining services has sent 20 categories of food served on campus to labs for testing.  Princeton has closed some of its food stations at the Frist Campus Center, suspended services of a range of food that might be linked to Salmonella and changed some food vendors.  

The first case of Salmonella at Princeton was confirmed on April 29 through lab tests.  So far, Salmonella has been confirmed in 9 students and one staff member.  The cases all appear to be the same strain of Salmonella, and officials are trying to pin down the origin of the outbreak.  At least 80 other people are suffering from stomach problems, and health official suspect Salmonella poisoning in at least 73.  Investigators have taken and will continue to take stool samples from individuals reporting stomach problems.  They are also interviewing victims to obtain their complete food histories.  Results of lab tests are expected to start coming in soon.

Unfortunately, Salmonella outbreaks are not rare.  Over the last year and half, hundreds of people were sickened by Salmonella-tainted Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Banquet Pot Pies sold by ConAgra foods.  In the past couple of months, Malt-O-Meal Cereal has been blamed for 23 cases of Salmonella, while Honduran cantaloupe was recalled after in was linked to more than 50 cases of the disease.  Smaller outbreaks of Salmonella are reported on a regular basis throughout the country.

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