Same Salmonella Strain Sickens People in Pennsylvania, Montana, and TexasJan 7, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
A Salmonella outbreak in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania involves the same strain that has sickened people as far away as Montana and Texas. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not been able to determine the source of the Salmonella poisoning, or if the outbreaks involved the same point of origin. Right now, health officials in the affected states are conducting interviews with Salmonella victims in hopes of finding clues to the outbreaks’ origins.
Salmonella is a potentially deadly type of food poisoning, symptoms of which included 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. 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. According to the 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.
The Pennsylvania Salmonella outbreak originated at the Mazzi restaurant in Leola. All told, 11 people are known to have come down with Salmonella, most of whom attended a private Holiday party at Mazzi on December 10. In addition to the 11 laboratory-confirmed Salmonella cases, another 39 Mazzi diners have reported symptoms, and lab results are pending. A state inspection report indicated that strawberries, blueberries and unpasteurized eggs could be possible culprits in the Pennsylvania Salmonella outbreak. Tomatoes have also been mentioned as a possible source of the outbreak. Health officials in Pennsylvania, as well as Texas and Montana will be sending information on the Salmonella outbreaks to the CDC to see if they are connected.
Restaurant outbreaks of Salmonella poisoning are not rare. Last year, raw tomatoes served at restaurants around the country sickened dozens. And this summer over 700 people in the Chicago area became ill from Salmonella after they ate at the Pars Cove Restaurant food booth at the Taste of Chicago Food Festival. Last month, a Quiznos restaurant in Minnesota was implicated in a Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least10 people. Other Salmonella outbreaks this year have also been linked to Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter, and to Banquet Pot Pies, all of which were made by ConAgra Foods. In the past few weeks, Green Paradise Basil and Safeway Ground Beef have been recalled for Salmonella contamination.