Salmonella outbreak strikes Minnesota

Categories: National

Thirty cases of poisoning have been confirmed in Minnesota. Nationwide, more than 400 people have been sickened by the Salmonella outbreak. Right now, the best guess for the source is chicken. But this doesn't exactly sound encouraging:

"The lead hypothesis [about the Salmonella source] is chicken, but it's a hard thing to prove," the CDC's Angulo told USA Today. "Everybody eats chicken."

MyFox's version of the story suggests the salmonella outbreak may have touched down in a nursing home:

11 people were hospitalized in Minnesota, including 7 nursing home patients. The ages of the those sickened ranged from 4 months to 98 years.

Minnesota was the key to solving the last nationwide Salmonella outbreak in July, which was linked to jalapenos thanks to the work of Minnesota's health department. As I wrote at the time:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a press conference Monday to announce what was described as "a significant break" in the investigation: the discovery at the Agricola Zaragoza produce distribution center in McAllen, Texas of a jalapeño tainted with Salmonella saintpaul, a previously rare strain of the bacteria first identified in turkeys.

"The trail that led us to this facility...started with a cluster, a group that got sick in a geographic area," explained Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's associate commissioner for foods.

Acheson didn't specify where the cluster originated, but officials at the Minnesota health and agriculture departments both confirmed to City Pages that they recently traced a local Salmonella saintpaul outbreak to a jalapeño from McAllen, Texas.

"When they put this outbreak together they were focusing on the first group of cases that presented at a restaurant here in the Twin Cities that seemed like the common link, and when they looked at that exposure they identified jalapeño peppers as a statistically significant exposure in that group," says Ben Miller, the traceback coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, who declined to name the restaurant because it's part of an ongoing investigation. "We went back through the distributor, who in turn had purchased that product from another distributor, who in turn had purchased that product from another distributor, who turned out to be down there in McAllen, Texas."

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