Over three dozen people in Arizona, California, Idaho, and Nevada have become ill with a strain of Salmonella since early October, according to reports in the Tucson Citizen and Arizona Republic. Public health officials from the four states are investigating the source of the outbreak, and presently believe the source to be a food item.
The Tucson Citizen reported on the outbreak:
Though salmonella outbreaks are not unusual, authorities are trying to identify a common source. A store chain, but likely not a restaurant, may have distributed a food product that hospitalized a dozen people — seven from Arizona — said Shoana Anderson, an infectious disease epidemiologist in Phoenix.
Arizona had 14 cases in all, California 18, Nevada three and Idaho one, Anderson and food-borne disease epidemiologist Joli Weiss said. The illnesses were reported between between Oct. 4 and Nov. 9 and all involved the same strain of the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts 4 – 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and people with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. In severe infection, Salmonella spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites, and death can occur if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.