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Chicken salad Salmonella cases more than double; more likely

The number of confirmed victims in a multi-state Salmonella outbreak traced to chicken salad has more than doubled since federal officials first reported on the situation.

There are now 170 confirmed cases across seven states, according to an update today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those people for whom complete details are available, 62 have had symptoms so severe they required hospitalization. No deaths have been confirmed.

It is likely that additional illnesses will be confirmed because of the two-to four-week lag time between diagnosis and reports reaching the CDC, according to the agency. Illnesses that began after Feb. 12 probably haven’t all been reported to the CDC yet.

Fareway Stores Inc. retailers sold the implicated chicken salad from Jan. 4 to Feb. 9 in their deli departments at stores in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. The chain pulled the chicken salad from its stores Feb. 9 after the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals contacted the company about illnesses.

However, the producer, Triple T Specialty Meats Inc., did not recall the chicken salad until Feb. 21, when it pulled 20,600 pounds of chicken salad made Jan. 2-Feb. 7 and packaged for Fareway.

The Iowa Department of Public Health issued a public alert on Feb. 13 urging consumers to throw out any unused portions of the chicken salad.

Investigators in Iowa collected chicken salad from two Fareway grocery stores in Iowa for laboratory testing. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium was identified in both samples.

The CDC did not acknowledge the outbreak until Feb. 22 and had not posted any updates until today. Its initial report indicated 65 people had been confirmed ill in five states.

“Another 105 ill people from six states were added to this investigation since the last update on Feb. 22,” according to the CDC’s Thursday update. “The newly reported ill people likely bought contaminated chicken salad before it was recalled. Public health agencies receive reports on Salmonella illnesses two to four weeks after illness starts.

The most recent illness began on Feb. 18. Two more states have reported ill people, one in Indiana and two in South Dakota, CDC reported.

Other states reporting confirmed outbreak cases and the number of people sick, according to the CDC, are:

  • Illinois, with 9;
  • Iowa, with 149;
  • Minnesota, with 3;
  • Nebraska, with 5; and
  • Texas, with 1.

Advice to consumers
Anyone who has eaten any chicken salad from Fareway stores and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start six to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria. However, in some people, it takes two weeks for symptoms to develop.

Symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually last for four to seven days. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious, extended illness. Severe cases can cause life-long health problems and sometimes death.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but they are still be able to spread the infection to others.

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