The Illinois Department of Health’s very brief situation update today gives the impression that we do not yet know the full scope of what may become a very major outbreak. IDPH latest announcement on the Subway salmonella outbreak states as follows:
"Confirmed cases of Salmonella serotype Hvittingfoss – 60. Age range of confirmed cases: 2 to 88. Cases have reported eating at Subway restaurants located in 22 counties — Bureau, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Coles, DeWitt, Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Macon, Marshall, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Sangamon, Schuyler, Shelby, Tazewell, Vermilion, Warren, Winnebago and Will. "
The resemblance to this year’s Shigella outbreak at a Subway restaurant in Lombard Illinois is strikingly similar . . . and not just because it involves Subway restaurants in Illinois again. Subway sandwiches, with so many common ingredients eaten raw at so many different locations, are the perfect recipe for widespread foodpoisoning outbreaks where lots of people fall ill. The Lombard Subway shigella outbreak was almost certainly caused by general lack of sanitation and handwashing, which caused the shigella bacteria present in the restaurant environment to proliferate. Multiple lawsuits are currently pending in Dupage County Courts as a result of the first Illinois Subway outbreak.
In the current Subway Salmonella outbreak, the distribution of cases would indicate that the problem is a common ingredient, not necessarily improper sanitation or food handling procedures. Whatever the case, the convenient sandwiches serve as effective mediums for the transmission of disease-causing organisms, and they are once again implicated in a major foodpoisoning outbreak.