Felice Freyer at the Providence Journal, who is no stranger to investigative journalism in food poisoning outbreaks, reports that the number of Salmonella illnesses in the DeFusco’s Salmonella outbreak has increased to 33 (11 confirmed by stool sample).  Unfortunately, 17 of those 33 have had to be hospitalized.  According to Annemarie Beardsworth, health department spokesperson, “this unusually high rate of hospitalization results from the fact that many people who ate the pastry were elderly and less able to fight off the infection.”

Representing the elderly is something we frequently do in E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks because, as Ms Beardsworth indicates, they are more susceptible to infection, and also more prone to suffering severe illnesses once they become infected.  They have a 15 times greater mortality rate than otherwise healthy, younger adults, after being infected by foodborne pathgoens like Salmonella. 

For more on the significance of age in infectious disease, see “Risks to the elderly in the middle of bologna e. coli, salmonella cantaloupe, and salmonella bakery outbreaks.”