A fast-growing Salmonella outbreak with an unidentified source has spread to 35 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At least 419 people are sick, 66 hospitalized. Health officials are still working to pinpoint the source, but foods served at Mexican-style restaurants containing cilantro, lime, peppers, and onions are suspects.
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Since the CDC’s last outbreak update on September 23, 2021, the outbreak has grown to include 140 more illnesses and spread to six more states. Clusters of illness have been reported among restaurant customers.
On September 24, 2021, the CDC reported that a condiment cup from a takeout meal eaten by one of the outbreak patients tested positive for the outbreak strain Salmonella Oranienburg. The cup originally contained onions, cilantro, and lime, but at the time it was tested no onions were left in the cup.
Because contaminated food can cross-contaminate other food it touches, any of these three ingredients could be the source of the outbreak. In Texas, the state hardest hit by the outbreak, a health official told a local news station that a mixture of cilantro, lime, and jalapeno peppers was commonly cited among outbreak patients. Cilantro, onions, and peppers have all been identified as the sources of previous food poisoning outbreaks.
The number of illnesses reported from each state is: Alabama (1), Arkansas (8), California (6), Connecticut (4), Florida, (5), Georgia (2), Illinois (28), Indiana, (11), Kansas (9), Kentucky (9), Louisiana (4), Maryland (22), Massachusetts (10), Michigan (6), Minnesota, (20), Mississippi (2), Missouri (5), Nebraska (6), New Jersey (5), New Mexico (8), New York (3), North Carolina (7), North Dakota (2), Ohio (5), Oklahoma, (63), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (4), South Carolina (2), South Dakota (7), Tennessee (2), Texas (111), Utah (2), Virginia (38) and Wisconsin (10).
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that can be bloody. These symptoms usually set in between six and 72 hours after eating contaminated food. The people sickened in this outbreak, who from less than 1 year to 91 years old, reported the onset of symptoms on dates ranging from June 19, 2021, to September 14, 2021.
Of the 214 people interviewed by health officials, 66 have been hospitalized. A 30 percent hospitalization rate is higher than the 20 percent average.
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