An outbreak of Salmonella is now believed to have sickened 17 people in Oklahoma.

The two new suspected cases have not been confirmed through lab tests, the Oklahoman newspaper reported yesterday. 

Of the cases reported in three Oklahoma counties, 14 are schoolchildren from Mustang, a fast-growing Oklahoma City suburb in Canadian County.  Most of the children who became ill attended Centennial, Lakehome and Mustang Valley elementary schools; one attended the Mustang School District’s preschool.

Two adult cases in nearby Oklahoma County matched the outbreak strain.  One of those individuals was hospitalized.  A young adult in Carter County, to the south, also became ill.

The outbreak apparently occurred during the first two weeks in September, but as of late yesterday health authorities had not yet announced a suspected source.

Although health officials earlier said illnesses in Iowa and Nebraska might be linked to the Oklahoma outbreak, RadioIowa reported that Iowa authorities had investigated both cases and found no connection.

Oklahoma is the home state of Tom Coburn, the Republican senator who has blocked a vote on S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act that would, among other things, improve the ability of health systems to trace outbreaks back to specific foods as well as expand genetic fingerprinting and other detection strategies.

Salmonella Paratyphi B Variant Java, the strain identified in the Oklahoma cases, is known for its resistance to some antibiotics and its increasing prevalence worldwide.

In 2003, the Eurosurveillance network reported an “explosive” increase in Salmonella Java in poultry in the Netherlands–from less than 2 percent of all isolates before 1996 to 60 percent in 2002.  The network also said the strain was fast becoming less sensitive to the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin.

Since 2000, epidemiologists in Great Britain have reported an increase in Salmonella Java cases with resistance to antimicrobial drugs.

Correction:  An earlier version of this entry incorrectly reported that officials are investigating a suspected case of Salmonella in Nebraska.