An outbreak of illnesses caused by Salmonella Bareilly poisoning, possibly linked but not confirmed to be associated with sushi, had sickened 90 people in 19 states and the District of Columbia as of Monday, according to sources within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The majority of the cases have been reported from the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf coast, but include cases as far west as Missouri and Texas. The state names have not yet been released by FDA or CDC.
According to an internal FDA email, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has characterized this outbreak as “ongoing and rapidly expanding,” particularly due to the prolonged reporting lag time (which can be up to 32 days after a patient’s infection is confirmed by lab analysis). Seven people reportedly have been hospitalized.
The FDA has been working with the CDC in investigating the outbreak and is continuing to eliminate other possible vehicles as the source of the illnesses. CDC officials postulate that sushi is the likely source of this outbreak, with spicy tuna roll sushi “highly suspect.”
The FDA source said data collected by the states and the agency’s district offices focuses on 6 implicated restaurant clusters where diners reported illness. Those clusters are in Texas, Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut, and two are in Wisconsin.
Phyllis Entis, author of eFoodAlert, reports that Texas, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Missouri, New York and Louisiana have reported cases that are linked to the outbreak, but the 11 other states haven’t been identified. Louisiana health officials told Entis their first case patients became ill in mid-February; New York says its first outbreak patient became ill on March 1.
According to Entis, health departments in Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah say they are not investigating any cases related to this outbreak.
The traceback efforts are said to include analyzing information on menu items consumed, ingredients, brands, preparation and suppliers, particularly cases associated with the restaurant clusters, in an effort to identify the specific suspect outbreak vehicle.
If spicy tuna roll sushi is the source of the outbreak, investigators will try to determine what ingredient in the sushi might have been contaminated.
The time between eating a food contaminated with Salmonella and the beginning of symptoms is typically one to three days, sometimes longer.