The Minnesota Department of Health announced Thursday that officials were investigating 45 cases of Salmonella Newport infection reported in the state since Wednesday, Sept. 2. Since many cases of salmonellosis do not seek health care and get tested, the number of ill people that are part of this outbreak is likely to be larger than the identified number of cases, MDH stated. Health officials wanted to bring this outbreak to the attention of people who have become ill with symptoms of salmonellosis but who have not yet consulted a health care provider, MDH stated. These people should mention this outbreak to their health care provider should they consult one. According to MDH, the investigation to date has found that the 45 cases were all infected with Salmonella Newport bacteria that have matching, or very similar, DNA fingerprints. Of the 34 people who have been interviewed to date, 32 ate or likely ate at 17 different Chipotle restaurant locations. Most of the restaurant locations are in the Twin Cities metro area, with one in St. Cloud and one in Rochester. Their meal dates range from Aug. 16 to Aug. 26, and they became ill between Aug. 20 and Aug. 29. The Minnesota cases range in age from 15 to 67 years and are from eight metro and greater Minnesota counties; 56 percent are male. Five people have been hospitalized, and all are recovering, the department stated. Investigators from MDH and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working on identifying a specific food item source of the outbreak. Meanwhile, Chipotle has changed the source of the suspect produce item under investigation. Between Aug. 16 and Aug. 26, Chipotle served more than 560,000 customers in Minnesota and has taken every appropriate measure to ensure that it is safe to eat in its restaurants. Investigators are confident that ongoing transmission at Chipotle as part of this outbreak has ended, MDH stated. Department spokesman Doug Schultz said the department wasn’t naming the “suspect produce item” at this time. “We thought it was important to get this information out because of the number of people who are ill and don’t realize what’s going on,” he told Food Safety News, adding that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is still conducting a traceback investigation so more information was expected in the next couple of days. The Chipotle locations involved to date are 7 Corners (Minneapolis), Bloomington, Calhoun, Crystal, Hopkins, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Minnetonka, Richfield, Ridgedale, Rochester, Shoreview, St. Cloud, St. Louis Park, St. Paul Lawson, Uptown, and U.S. Bank Plaza (Minneapolis). However, it is possible that other restaurant locations in Minnesota could have been affected as well. At this time, there is no indication that locations outside of Minnesota are involved, the department stated. Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but they can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5 to 7 days, but approximately 28 percent of laboratory-confirmed cases require hospitalization. Invasive infections (for example, blood stream infections, meningitis) occasionally occur. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Many Salmonella infections in otherwise healthy people do not require medical treatment. For those that do seek health care, most do not need to be treated with antibiotics. However, antibiotic treatment for certain categories of people and for more severe infections is warranted. Consult a health care provider for more information with specific questions about treatment of salmonellosis. Approximately 700 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in Minnesota. There is a separate ongoing Salmonella outbreak investigation in Minnesota associated with cucumbers. However, that outbreak was not related to Chipotle, MDH noted. More information on Salmonella and how to prevent it can be found on the MDH website at Salmonellosis.
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