The CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health are working together to investigate the Jimmy Johns Salmonella I 4,5,12,i- outbreak that has sickened almost 50 people. Many cases in the outbreak reportedly consumed alfalfa sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants in nine Illinois counties, including Adams, Champaign, Cook, Kankakee, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Will and Winnebago. 

The CDC’s involvement suggests, possibly, a multistate aspect to the outbreak.  Was it the seeds from which the sprouts sprouted?  If so, is the seed supplier known, and are seeds from the same lot from which the Jimmy Johns seeds came at any other sprouter?  No announcement as of yet.

In any case, the strain of salmonella involved in this outbreak, I 4,5,12,i-, is actually pronounced four five twelve eye minus.  Maybe we could assign a better, less cumbersome name to this particular bug.  It seems to rear its ugly head enough to deserve something perhaps a little more ominous. 

ConAgra pot pies, 2007

Frozen rodent outbreak, 2010

Also important to note is that Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:- has antibiotic resistant properties.  A few more interesting points, and outbreaks, involving the increasingly common salmonella strain four five twelve eye minus:

S. enterica serovar 4,[5],12:i:- is considered a monophasic variant of serovar Typhimurium (4,[5],12:i:1,2) due to antigenic and genotypic similarities between the two serovars [3,4]. Serovar Typhimurium is the second most common serovar associated with human cases of Salmonella infection in the EU [1]. In contrast isolates of serovar 4,[5],12:i:- were rarely identified before the mid-1990s but are now among the top 10 most common serovars isolated from humans in several countries [3-8]. According to Enter-net data this serovar was the fourth most common serovar in confirmed cases of human salmonellosis in the EU in 2006 [1]. Cases of infection with serovar 4,[5],12:i:- have reportedly been severe, with a 70% hospitalisation rate during an outbreak in New York City in 1998 [9], although a much lower rate of 21% was observed during an outbreak in Luxembourg in 2006 [6]. Infections have also been particularly associated with cases of septicaemia in Thailand and Brazil [7,10]. Overall, cases of infection have been linked to a number of sources, including poultry and cattle, but particularly pigs and pork products [4,6,10-13]. Serovar 4,[5],12:i:- was among the top 10 most common serovars isolated from both pigs and pig meat in the EU in 2006 [1].