For Immediate Release
Mike Heideman, 785-296-4363
As of July 9, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has identified 17 cases that are linked to a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul bacterium infections. Eight of the cases are in northeast Kansas, two are in the southwest, one case is in the southeast part of the state and six are in the south-central region.
“The statewide case total has remained the same from June 30,” said Dr. Gail Hansen, State Epidemiologist. “We continue to work with local health departments and federal partners on this investigation.”
Since April, 1,017 persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. An initial epidemiologic investigation in New Mexico and Texas identified consumption of raw tomatoes as strongly linked to illness. A similar but much larger, nationwide study comparing persons who were ill in June to well persons found that ill persons were more likely to have recently consumed raw tomatoes, fresh jalapeño peppers, and fresh cilantro. These items were commonly, though not always, consumed together, so that study could not determine which item(s) caused the illnesses.
Until health officials know that the contaminated product or products are no longer on the market, persons with increased risk of severe infection, including infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems, should not eat raw jalapeño peppers or raw serrano peppers. They should also only eat raw tomatoes that are on the FDA safe list. Produce grown at home is not part of this warning. Consumers should be aware that raw jalapeño peppers are often used in the fresh preparation of salsa, pico de gallo, and other dishes.
Consumers everywhere are advised to follow the general food safety guidelines below:
FDA recommends that U.S. retail outlets, restaurants, and food service operators offer only fresh and fresh cut red plum, red Roma, and round red tomatoes and food products made from these tomatoes from specific sources listed at: www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html#retailers. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached from any source are not suspected in this outbreak.
The Food and Drug Administration has issued guidance on consuming raw tomatoes, which can be found at http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html. Information about the CDC’s investigation of the outbreak and advice for consumers can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/saintpaul/.