As of February 28, 2014, a total of 481 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 25 states and Puerto Rico, since March 1, 2013. 38% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported. Most ill persons (76%) have been reported from California.
The number of reported infections from all seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg returned to baseline levels in January and the outbreak appeared to be over, as noted in the previous update on January 16, 2014. However, the investigation continued.
Ongoing surveillance identified in February that infections from two of the previously rare outbreak strains have again exceeded the number of infections expected to be reported to PulseNet during this time of year.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.
The outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. Although these antibiotics are not typically used to treat Salmonella bloodstream infections or other severe Salmonella infections, antibiotic resistance can increase the risk of hospitalization in infected individuals.