As of Tuesday, March 29, 2011, six additional cases of salmonella were reported to the Rhode Island Health Department, bringing the total number of cases in the DeFusco’s Zeppoles Salmonella Outbreak to an astounding 39. Of those 39 cases, 21 have tested positive for salmonella, and 24 have required hospitalization due to the severity of their illness.
In addition, several news reports have suggested that the death of a Rhode Island man could also be connected to the outbreak. The man, in his 80s, was hospitalized earlier in the month after becoming seriously ill and later died on March 23, 2011 from salmonella poisoning. Annemarie Beardsworth, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Health Department, told reporters that tests also showed the man had the same type of salmonella as many of the other people who had become sick.
Although there seems to be a clearconnection, Beardsworth expressed her hesitation in associating the man’s death with the Defusco’s Zeppoles Salmonella Outbreak before a full investigation was conducted. Beardsworth explained, “What we have now would be considered circumstantial evidence.” In order to ascertain if there is a connection, the Health Department plans to interview the man’s family members to determine what he may have eaten.
Felice Freyer of The Providence Journal, who has been diligently covering the outbreak investigation as it unfolds, reported that:
Before health officials can definitively attribute the man’s death to DeFusco’s pastries, they have to find the same strain of salmonella in swabs and samples taken from the production facility. Results of tests from the bakery are not expected until Friday, Beardsworth said.
In the meantime, Rhode Island Health Department officials continue to urge the public to discard any baked goods that may have been stored in the freezer. “If you have them, through them out. It is definitely not worth taking a risk and getting sick,” said Beardsworth.