A Salmonella outbreak that’s been percolating around a pair of trendy restaurants in West Hollywood and the District of Columbia for about three weeks might be expanding, with reports of the outbreak strain possibly showing up in other cities with Fig & Olive restaurants. One thing for certain is that state and federal health officials are now treating the outbreak associated with the Fig & Olive restaurants as a multi-state outbreak, not a couple of isolated clusters. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now leading the investigation, in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state and local health departments. Salmonella illnesses associated with Fig & Olive began about three weeks ago, and led to both the D.C. City Center and West Hollywood units of the New York City-based chain shutting down for short periods of time. The D.C. unit was shuttered from Sept. 10-16, and the West Hollywood one for a shorter period. When they re-opened, both restaurants acknowledged that they had stopped using a truffle oil made by Fig & Olive. Health officials have not confirmed whether or not the oil was the source of the Salmonella contamination. The Los Angeles Times reports that Fig & Olive completed deep cleaning, brought in an outside food safety expert, and is cooperating in the investigation. In Los Angeles, the Acute Communicable Disease and Control unit of the health department is in charge of the local investigation. The unit reports that 20 people meeting a clinical definition for Salmonella reported eating at this restaurant between Sept. 6-11, 2015. Of these, seven have been confirmed by laboratory tests. Investigation of the cases and the foods eaten is ongoing. In addition to patrons of the restaurant, three restaurant employees were identified with the same Salmonella type. The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) are in close collaboration, continuing the surveillance, testing and reporting of food samples from that Fig & Olive restaurant. To date, DFS has tested 45 food samples and 15 environmental samples, which yielded negative Salmonella isolates; 10 food samples are pending. To date, DFS has confirmed and reported that 11 samples from people in D.C. hospitals have yielded positive results for Salmonella Enteritidis and that those DNA typings have been shared with CDC and have been linked to this outbreak. DOH also reports that several other states with Fig & Olive restaurants are reporting Salmonella cases. At this time, CDC has confirmed that the inquiry underway is now a multistate investigation tied to Fig and Olive food establishments and is working closely with each jurisdiction to assess the cases, analyze test results, and identify possible trends or correlations. As of Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, DOH has confirmed 14 cases of Salmonella tied back to the D.C. Fig & Olive establishment. Interviews of those who reported illnesses are ongoing and, to date, DOH has interviewed 135 persons.
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