Public health officials in Missouri still have not named the restaurant in the state’s capital city where 14 out of 36 people with Salmonella infections ate before becoming ill.
The Cole County Health Department is investigating the outbreak with the help of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Jefferson City Environmental Health Division. Local media outlets in mid-Missouri began reporting on the outbreak about 10 days ago.
Kristi Campbell, director of the Cole County Health Department has confirmed that 14 of the victims ate at the same restaurant, but the department is not releasing the name of the restaurant.
Campbell told Jefferson City, MO, newspaper and television reporters Monday that all of the confirmed strains of salmonella from the victims had the same pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern, indicating that the victims’ infections came from the same or a similar source. Eggs and chicken are being investigated as the possible source.
Salmonella is the second most common intestinal infection in the United States. More than 7,000 cases of Salmonella were confirmed in 2009, but the majority of cases go unreported, according to public health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 1 million people in the U.S. contract Salmonella infections each year, and that an average of 20,000 hospitalizations and almost 400 deaths occur from Salmonella poisoning, according to a 2011 report.
Salmonella infection usually occurs when a person eats food contaminated with the feces of animals or humans carrying the bacteria. Salmonella outbreaks are commonly associated with eggs, meat and poultry, but these bacteria can also contaminate other foods such as fruits and vegetables. Foods that are most likely to contain Salmonella include raw or undercooked eggs, raw milk, contaminated water, and raw or undercooked meats.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)