Tomato Salmonella Victims Could Number 8000+Jun 18, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
An outbreak of Salmonella from tainted tomatoes could ultimately affect more than 8,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Unfortunately, the true number of people sickened in this Salmonella outbreak will never be known, as the vast majority of Salmonella illnesses are never reported to health authorities.
The CDC has so far confirmed 277 cases of Salmonella St. Paul in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The states affected by the tomato Salmonella outbreak include: Arkansas (2 persons), Arizona (19), California (6), Colorado (1), Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Georgia (7), Idaho (3), Illinois (34), Indiana (7), Kansas (8), Kentucky (1), Maryland (1), Michigan (2), Missouri (4), New Mexico (68), New York (2), North Carolina (1), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (4), Oregon (3), Tennessee (4), Texas (68), Utah (2), Virginia (16), Vermont (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (5), and the District of Columbia (1).
The CDC said reports of the illnesses were made between April 10 and June 5, and the CDC considers the outbreak to be ongoing, because new reports of Salmonella poisoning are still being made. At least 43 victims have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been "officially" attributed to Salmonella tainted tomatoes. However, a man in his sixties who died in Texas from cancer was infected with Salmonella St. Paul at the time of his death. The CDC says the infection may have contributed to his death.
According to a report on Seattlepi.com, the CDC estimates that as many as 8500 people might eventually become sick in this outbreak. No one will ever know the true number of illnesses caused by Salmonella tainted tomatoes, because health officials are never notified of most illnesses. Many people with a mild case of Salmonella poisoning won't seek medical attention, and among those that do, testing of stool samples - the only way to confirm Salmonella - is never done.
It is important however, that anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of Salmonella seek medical attention, because the disease can become serious. Salmonella symptoms include 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.