What is the Problem and What is Being Done About It?
The FDA, CDC, and state and local officials are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+) infections possibly linked to sushi made from raw tuna.
According to the CDC, 53 people infected with the outbreak strain have been reported from 9 states: Arizona (10), California (31), Illinois (1), Mississippi (1), New Mexico (6), South Dakota (1), Virginia (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (1). Most of the ill people have been reported from states in the southwestern United States or reported travel to this area of the country. Among 46 persons with available information, 10 (22%) have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported. At this time, the investigation has not conclusively identified a food source, but most ill people interviewed reported eating sushi containing raw tuna in the week before becoming ill. At this time, a common brand or supplier of raw tuna has not been identified.
While local and state health officials continue to interview patients, the FDA is increasing its monitoring of tuna. Additionally, FDA is conducting a traceback investigation. The FDA is evaluating and analyzing records to determine whether there is a common source of tuna. In this effort, the FDA works with its investigational partners to identify clusters of people made ill in separate geographic areas and works to trace the path of food eaten by those made ill back to a common source. This is labor intensive and painstaking work, requiring the collection, review and analysis of hundreds and at times thousands of invoices and shipping documents.
If a specific food or source linked to the illnesses is identified, the FDA will work to remove it from the marketplace and alert consumers to avoid it.
What are the Symptoms of Salmonella?
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
It is important to note that this outbreak is caused by Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+) bacteria. This type of bacteria does not cause typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever or enteric fever.
How Soon do Symptoms Appear After Exposure?
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.
What are the Complications of Salmonella Infections?
In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
Who is at Risk?
Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is higher than the rate in all other people. Children younger than 5 years of age, the elderly, and those people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe infections. It is estimated that approximately 400 persons in the United States die each year with acute salmonellosis. Children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should generally avoid eating raw fish of any kind.
What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?
At this time, a common brand or supplier of raw tuna has not been identified, and there are no specific steps for restaurants and retailers to take to protect their customers.
What Do Consumers Need To Do?
At this time, a common brand or supplier of raw tuna has not been identified, and there are no specific steps for consumers to take to protect themselves.
The FDA has provided information on selecting and serving fresh and frozen seafood safely. Some people are at greater risk for foodborne illness, and should not eat raw or partially cooked fish or shellfish. These susceptible groups include:
- Pregnant women
- Young children
- Older adults
- Persons whose immune systems are compromised
- Persons who have decreased stomach acidity
If you are unsure of your risk, ask your healthcare provider.
Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food. If more specific information becomes available FDA and CDC will share it with the public, along with any steps consumers can take to prevent illnesses.
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