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Sprouts Outbreak Toll Now at 112 in 18 States

The outbreak of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-  linked to Tiny Greens alfalfa sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants may have sickened as many as 112 people in 18 states and the District of Columbia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

The previous tally had been 94 sick people in 16 states and Washington D.C.

In its update on the investigation, the CDC said the illnesses were reported from Nov. 1, 2010 through Jan. 4, 2011 and there may still be more to count.  Illnesses that occurred after Dec. 13 might not yet be reported due to the typical lag time between when a person becomes ill and when the infection is confirmed, which averages from 2 to 3 weeks.

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More than half the patients live in Illinois, where 59 people have been identified with the outbreak strain of Salmonella.  There have also been 22 cases in Missouri, 10 cases in Indiana, three in Pennsylvania and in Wisconsin, two in Massachusetts and single cases in California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.  Because this Salmonella serotype is common, the CDC cautions that some of the cases identified may not be related to this outbreak.

Illness onset dates range from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24.  The youngest victim was a year old and the eldest 75.  Sixty-eight percent of the patients are females.  Twenty-four percent were hospitalized. 

The Illinois Department of Health first identified the cluster of illnesses and determined that many of those who were sick had eaten sandwiches at various Jimmy John’s restaurants.  The chain suspended serving sprouts at their Illinois franchises.

Local, state and federal health officials and regulators linked the outbreak to Tiny Greens Organic Farm alfalfa sprouts and a mix of alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts the grower calls “spicy sprouts.”  The sprouts, which have been recalled, were distributed not only to Jimmy John’s but also to other restaurants, farmers markets and grocery stores, the CDC report states.

The FDA and state investigators are still trying to determine how the sprouts became contaminated.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outbreak map 

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