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article imageSalmonella linked to pork in eight Washington state counties

By Karen Graham     Jul 24, 2015 in Food
Seattle - Washington state and local health officials are partnering to investigate a number of cases and clusters of Salmonella infections that have popped up in eight counties recently. The cases all appear to be linked to eating pork.
The investigations into 56 cases of salmonellosis in eight counties includes food served at a variety of events. Investigators have been exploring a number of sources, from farm to table, and most of the findings are showing an apparent link to pork.
There is still a question of whether the Salmonella infections came from the consumption of pork or handling of raw pork. Salmonellosis, the illness caused by Salmonella bacteria, can cause severe and even bloody diarrhea, a fever, chills, gastrointestinal distress, and vomiting. Serious bloodstream infections may also occur.
Of the 56 cases of Salmonella infections, 44 came from King County. All of the cases, individual, and clusters, occurred with several foods at several events held recently. Health officials are not ruling out other meats as a source, although pork seems to be the most likely source because many of the events featured a whole pig roast.
“Why we’re sending out this message now before the investigation is complete is because we’re saying: ‘You’ve got to be really careful with raw meat,’ ” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist.
A rare and unusual strain of Salmonella
The outbreak strain is Salmonella enterica I, 4, 5, 12:i:-, a pathogen that has been emerging across the nation for the past five years, and never before seen in Washington state. Because of the unusual strain of Salmonella found, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are assisting in the investigation.
Health officials say no cases have been found in states bordering Washington state. In the King County cases, people had eaten pork or beef. Other cases appear to be associated with eating chicken, or being in contact with swine, cattle or poultry.
The Salmonella strain also appears to be resistant to antibiotics used to treat infection and is particularly dangerous in young children and the elderly. At this time, five people are hospitalized. Also troubling is the total number of Salmonella illnesses in King County overall. King County officials say there has been a spike in salmonella cases, with 141 confirmed or probable illnesses reported between June 1 and July 23. That compares to an average of 39 cases during the same time period the past five years.
In 2010, the CDC reported a multistate outbreak of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- infections that were traced to frozen rodents used to feed reptiles. A total of 34 people were identified as having a matching strain identical to Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-. Interestingly, the U.S. strain is indistinguishable from the strain that caused an outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2009. The outbreak investigation by the Health Protection Agency of the United Kingdom linked frozen mice imported from the U.S. as food for pet reptiles as the source of human illness.
More about Washington state, salmonella infections, linked to pork, rare strain of salmonella, CDC
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