A Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak has doubled in size in the last six days, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Federal health officials have not yet identified the food source of the fast-growing outbreak that has now sickened 279 people in 29 states. But some evidence suggests that cilantro is a possible suspect.
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On September 24, 2021, the CDC reported that it had collected a condiment cup from a takeout meal eaten by one of the outbreak patients and tested it. The cup had originally contained onions, cilantro, and lime, but at the time it was tested no onions were left in the cup. The sample tested positive for the outbreak strain Salmonella Oranienburg.
Cilantro has been linked to multiple outbreaks caused by the parasite Cyclospora. Last year, onions were linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 1,000 people. The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are using this information to narrow down the list of suspected food sources for this outbreak.
One distinguishing feature of this outbreak is that several clusters of illness have been linked to food served at restaurants. Working off of information gathered from these clusters of illness, the FDA collected purchasing records from the restaurants where the patients ate and has been trying to find a common food distributor or supplier.
Earlier this month, the Grundy County Health Department in Illinois announced it was investigating a Salmonella outbreak at La Mex restaurant in Morris, IL. In its report, the health department said the illnesses, involving customers who ate customers who ate at the restaurant between August 31, 2021, and September 7, 2021, may be part of a multistate outbreak that is being investigated by the FDA and the CDC.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody, usually develop within six to 72 hours of eating contaminated food. The people sickened in this outbreak, who range in age from 1 year old to 89 years old, reported the onset of Salmonella symptoms on dates ranging from August 3, 2021, to September 13, 2021. Of the 86 patients interviewed by health officials, 26 said they were so sick they needed to be hospitalized.
The number of illnesses reported from each state is: Arkansas (7), California (5), Connecticut (5), Florida (2), Illinois (28), Indiana (1), Iowa (1), Kansas (6), Maryland (9), Massachusetts (10), Michigan (4), Minnesota (19), Missouri (3), Nebraska (4), New Jersey (4), New Mexico (6), New York (2), North Carolina (2), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (40), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (4), South Carolina (1), South Dakota (5), Tennessee (1), Texas (81), Utah (2), Virginia (22), and Wisconsin (8).
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This post was originally published on September 23, 2021.
This post was updated on September 27, 2021, to include information about possible food sources.