Tracking salmonella outbreak difficult

January 22, 2009 3:12:08 PM PST
The list of recalled food products linked to the salmonella outbreak is growing...And so are concerns.

Dean Clark, of Malvern, Pa., says "You know you don't want the kids to get sick so you've got to be so careful."

Nationwide, 6 deaths, and nearly 500 illnesses are linked to the bacteria.

Locally, New Jersey has 19 cases, Pennsylvania has 14, and Delaware has none.

In South Jersey, Atlantic County has the most - 5 cases. Camden and Ocean counties have 2 cases. Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, and Cape May counties have 1 each.

In eastern Pennsylvania, Bucks and Chester have 2 cases each. Lancaster county also has 2 cases. Philadelphia, Delaware, and Lehigh counties have 2 each.

But officials say no one has gotten sick since mid-December.

Marcia Costello, Ph.D., an associate professor at Villanova's school of nursing says because peanut butter and peanut paste are so widely used, and have a long shelf-life, that it is likely the list will keep growing.

She ticks them off, "Cakes, pies, cookies, energy bars..even recently, some Asian cooking sauces that have peanut butter in them have been cited, that they could potentially be a source of contamination."

The FDA has found the source at a plant in Georgia, but the root of the problem is still unknown.

Costello says, "Salmonella grows in the intestines of humans and animals- so it could be a human contact or it could be animals at a plant."

She says the biggest concern is for the elderly and kids....who are more likely to have serious problems if they're exposed.

The outbreak has been linked to 6 deaths, including Ginger Lorentz's 72-year-old mother.

With tears in her eyes, she says, " This shouldn't have happened, it shouldn't have happened."

For now, as the investigation continues, the FDA is urging people to avoid eating processed foods with peanut butter.

Dr. Costello advises, "It's not worth eating it b/c it could be a source of contamination."

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