An Oregon man who is part of the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Chester linked to Marie Callender’s Cheesey Chicken and Rice frozen meals is planning to file a lawsuit today against Omaha-based ConAgra Foods.

Dave Smith, a Clackamus County, Oregon resident, says he became infected with Salmonella Chester from eating one of the ConAgra-produced Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen meals.  The infection caused Smith to faint and fall in his bathroom on May 21.

After he awoke in a pool of blood, Smith’s wife called 911 and paramedics transferred him to the local Emergency Room.  He was admitted to the hospital and remained there for five days under treatment both for his fall and the Salmonella infection.

Smith, represented by the Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark, is suing ConAgra in Oregon’s U.S. District Court for damages exceeding $75,000.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta is investigating the 15-state outbreak of Salmonella serotype Chester infections using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.

As June 18, 2010, a total of 30 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Chester had been reported from 15 states since April 11, 2010.

The number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: CA (4), CO (2), GA (6), IL (1), KY (1), MA (2), MN (2), MO (1), NC (1), OK (1), OR (2), SC (2), TN (1), UT (1), and VA (3).

In its latest statement on the outbreak, CDC says that among those for whom information is available about when symptoms started, illnesses began between April 5, 2010 and May 29, 2010.

Case-patients range in age from under one to 88 years old, and the median age is 37 years. Fifty-four percent of patients are female. Among the 15 patients with available hospitalization information, 6 (40 percent) were hospitalized.

No deaths have been reported.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Laboratory reported to CDC on June 18 that it has isolated Salmonella Chester from an unopened of Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken & Rice single-serve frozen entrée collected from a case patient.  Sub typing of the Salmonella strain is under way.

ConAgra has had a recall underway for the cheesy chicken and rice product since June 17.