Every year at about this time–after it appears highly unlikely that our Colorado Rockies will take the National League West–I begin thinking about what type of year the rest of us are having.

Worldwide the year’s top story is very likely to be South Africa’s worst in the world listeriosis outbreak with 1,060 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis, including 216 deaths.

But here in the good old US of A, it’s been Salmonella, Salmonella and more Salmonella. But for the E. coli O157: H7 outbreak involving that hard to nail down Romaine Lettuce from Yuma growing region, it’s all been Salmonella.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta have recorded the following multi-state outbreaks of Salmonella, so far this year:

We’ve come to think of E. coli O157: H7, Listeria, and Salmonella as the Big 3 for foodborne illnesses. There’s been no multi-state incident involving Listeria, and the only O157 we’ve seen is that which rode in on the Romaine Lettuce.

But Salmonella we’ve got all over the place in 2018. Well, at least we have a dozen multi-state outbreaks to date. God knows how many Salmonella outbreaks were contained by the borders of a single state, like the one in Northern Colorado with 30 confirmed cases that just forced a popular restaurant to close permanently.
Two deaths occurred from those dozen multi-state Salmonella outbreaks.

As miserable as it is to go through a bit of Salmonella, most of us will survive if we are not too young, too old or too immune compromised.

But those dozen multi-state Salmonella outbreaks have racked up 985 confirmed cases and sent 359 to hospitals for more acute care. Any year where there are fewer deaths and fewer injured children from food-borne diseases is a good year. We hope that when we play out the last three months, we can say that about 2018.

While there is plenty troubling among the 12 multi-state Salmonella outbreaks, government, academic, and media interest in the E. coli -contaminated Romaine is also far from exhausted. Size dictates more attention and 210 confirmed cases in 36 states that sent 96 people to hospitals and killed 5 merits that sort of attention for the year’s, so far, only E. coli 0157: H7 outbreak.

Part of the reason I am writing this is to encourage more discussion about just what did go on this year. Do we have more Salmonella outbreaks than any other time in the past decade because we are getting better at identifying these incidents? Is grown in “the Yuma region” enough of an identifier when killer Romaine is on the loose?

Maybe somebody could yet explain to me why in this traceability era that fresh lettuce can be so difficult to track?

The year is not over yet. Anything could happen. Okay, I don’t think the Rockies can yet make the playoff, but there are other things.  Other stuff can still happen.

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