CDC reports nationwide salmonella outbreak

January 8, 2009 2:41:45 PM PST
The Centers for Disease Control has 15 investigators working full-time now on a nationwide outbreak of salmonella, a potentially dangerous bacteria.

Federal health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak that has reportedly sickened nearly 400 people in 42 states, but they don't know how the bacteria are spreading.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not named all the states affected by the outbreak of salmonella typhimurium. This is the most common type of salmonella reported in the U.S.

A spokeswoman for the Pa. Department of Health told Action News the state has 12 cases. Those include 2 cases in Bucks County, and one each in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, and Lehigh Counties. Lancaster County also has 2 cases.

Most Pennsylvanians sickened were ill in late October through November. The most recent confirmed Pa. case linked to the outbreak was December 15.

Delaware has no cases thus far. New Jersey health officials have yet to release any information on whether it is affected.

Ohio officials say at least 50 people there have been sickened by salmonella since October. California officials report 51 cases as of last week. Michigan had 20 cases and seven people there were hospitalized.

One health official in Michigan says the actual number of sick is probably much larger, as for every 1 cases reported, estimates are another 38 go unreported.

Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours later. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment.

Officials say steps to protect against illness include careful handling of raw meat and frequent hand washing.

Every year, approximately 40,000 people are reported ill with salmonella in the United States, the CDC says, but it said many more cases are never reported.

There have been several recent high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States, including a strain of Salmonella carried by peppers from Mexico and that sickened 1,400 people from April to August of 2007.