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Salmonellosis - Outbreak Investigation, February 2007

Feb 15, 2007 | Public health officials in multiple states, with the assistance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S Food and Drug Administration are investigating a large multistate outbreak of Salmonella Tennessee infections. Interviews comparing foods eaten by ill and well persons show that consumption of Peter Pan peanut butter was statistically associated with illness and therefore the most likely source of the outbreak.  Although the study did not specifically implicate Great Value brand peanut butter, it is manufactured in the same plant as Peter Pan peanut butter and therefore is believed to be at similar risk of contamination.

The affected jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter have a product code located on the lid of the jar that begins with the number "2111."   Both the Peter Pan and Great Value brands are manufactured in a single facility in Georgia.  These products may have national distribution. Great Value peanut butter made by other manufacturers is not affected.

As of February 15th at 3PM EST, 290 persons with Salmonella Tennessee, the Salmonella type associated with this outbreak, have been reported to CDC from 39 states: Alaska (1), Alabama (9), Arkansas (3), Arizona (5), California (1), Colorado (10), Connecticut (2), Georgia (14), Iowa (6), Illinois (5), Indiana (13), Kansas (6), Kentucky (9), Massachusetts (5), Maryland (2), Maine (1), Michigan (5), Minnesota (5), Missouri (13), Mississippi (3), Montana (2), Nebraska (2), New Jersey (5), North Carolina (15), New Mexico (1), New York (32), Ohio (7), Oklahoma (10), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (23), South Carolina (6), South Dakota (5), Tennessee (18), Texas (13), Virginia (17), Vermont (4), Washington (4), Wisconsin (5), and West Virginia (1). Among 185 patients for whom clinical information is available, 44 (24%) were hospitalized. There have been no reports of deaths attributed to this infection. Onset dates, which are known for 171 patients, ranged from August 1, 2006 to January 30, 2007.

CDC’s OutbreakNet (the network of public health officials that investigate foodborne illnesses nationwide) has been monitoring this outbreak which has been prolonged and of low intensity beginning with a few cases in August and gradually growing. Public health officials have been working to identify the source of infection for several months. Two closely related DNA fingerprint patterns have been associated with this outbreak. DNA fingerprinting is routinely done at public health laboratories in all states as part of PulseNet (the nationwide network of public health laboratories that sub-type bacteria).

Health officials and the peanut butter manufacturer are working collaboratively to learn more about production of peanut butter to determine how it may have become contaminated.

Persons who think they may have become ill from eating peanut butter are advised to visit their health care provider. Persons who have become ill and have Peter Pan or Great Value peanut butter with product code beginning with “2111” should set aside the jar for possible collection by local health officials for further testing. Persons who have not become ill and have peanut butter with product code “2111” should discard the jar.

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

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