Salmonella outbreak sickens tens of dozens in U.S.: report

12:59, December 25, 2010      

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A salmonella outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts has sickened 89 people in 15 states and the District of Columbia, CNN reported on Friday.

About 23 percent of those sickened were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, said the report, quoting a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials have identified the particular strain of salmonella through diagnostic testing, the report said.

"Preliminary results of this investigation indicate a link to eating alfalfa sprouts at a national sandwich chain," the statement said.

Illinois was the hardest hit state, where about 50 people were sickened, according to the report.

Many of the victims reported eating alfalfa sprouts at locations of Jimmy John's, the report said.

Jimmy John Liautaud, the founder of Jimmy John's, said test results of sprouts from its main supplier tested negative.

Store locations have all come up negative for the bacteria as well, Liautaud said in a letter sent to all Jimmy John's franchises, according to CNN.

"As a goodfaith and goodwill gesture I am asking Illinois stores to pull sprouts until the state can give us some better direction," the letter stated. "We are working closely with the state and they are doing a darn good job in helping find the source. Again, no source has been found yet, this is a precautionary measure."

In addition to Illinois, Missouri reported 14 cases, Indiana nine, Wisconsin three and Pennsylvania two. Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia all have one confirmed case.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating a contaminated product.

Thoroughly cooking the vegetable can kill the bacteria. But health officials are recommending people throw away or return the tainted product.

About 40,000 cases of salmonella are reported each year in the United States, according to the CDC.

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