The case count has continued to grow as state health officials work with Public Health — Seattle & King County along with other local, state, and federal partners on the disease investigation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent its team of “disease detectives” to the state to help. Investigators are interviewing the most recent cases and comparing information to early cases, which were first reported in the spring.
Disease investigators are searching for possible contamination and exposure sources from a wide range of possible venues, including restaurants, markets, slaughter facilities, and farms/ranches. Salmonella bacteria are commonly found in animals used for food, and proper storage, handling, preparation, and cooking can help prevent the illness known as salmonellosis.
Most of the illnesses have been confirmed with the outbreak strain of Salmonella 4,5,12:I:- bacteria, and early testing shows a connection to a slaughter facility in Graham, WA. Samples were collected at Kapowsin Meats in Pierce County last week. Testing confirms the outbreak strain was present. The business, which is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, has cooperated with the investigation. There may be other sources and disease investigators are searching for the origin of the Salmonella bacteria in the outbreak.
The 134 cases include residents of Clark (2), Cowlitz (1), Grays Harbor (1), King (84), Kitsap (1), Mason (2), Pierce (12), Snohomish (24), Thurston (2), and Yakima (5) counties.
In May 2015 public health officials in Kenosha, Wisconsin investigated an outbreak of Salmonella linked to food purchased over Mother’s Day weekend (May 9-10) at the Supermercado Los Corrales in Kenosha. More than 70 people were reported to be ill. Thirty five patients were laboratory confirmed with Salmonella 4,5,12:I:-. Patients were infected with an indistinguishable strain. The outbreak strain was isolated in pork carnitas. The meat and food preparation areas of the facility were closed during the investigation.
Salmonella is the second most common foodborne illness in the United States. Approximately 1.4 million cases of Salmonella occur each year with 95% of those caused by tainted food. The acute symptoms of Salmonella include the sudden onset of nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea and mucous over a period of days. While there is no cure, infected persons usually recover completely, although it may take months. A small number of people experience ongoing symptoms such as joint pain, which can lead to chronic arthritis.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Marler Clark attorneys have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.
Marler has recently been featured on PBS’s Frontline (http://pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/trouble-with-chicken/) revealing the problems associated with omitting Salmonella as an adulterant. Marler was also featured this year in The New Yorker to discuss issues relating to Salmonella in the meat packing industry: (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/02/bug-system).