The Salmonella Newport Outbreak
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) have identified tomatoes as the source of the Salmonella Newport outbreak that has sickened dozens of people who ate at Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota since late August. Investigators are working with state and federal partners to trace the tomatoes back to the farm of origin.
Since the outbreak was reported in early September, additional illnesses have been confirmed by MDH. A total of 64 cases and 22 locations now have been linked to the outbreak. Nine people have been hospitalized. The cases range in age from 10 to 69 years and are from 13 metro counties and several greater Minnesota counties.
“We expected to see additional cases because it can take up to 10 days for symptoms of Salmonella to appear, another few days to a week before people go to their doctors and the cases get reported to us,” said MDH Epidemiologist Dana Eikmeier.
The term Salmonella refers to a group or family of bacteria that variously cause illness in humans. The taxonomy and nomenclature of Salmonella have changed over the years and are still evolving. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes two species, which are divided into seven subspecies. These subspecies are divided into over 50 serogroups based on somatic (O) antigens present. The most common Salmonella serogroups are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Serogroups are further divided into over 2,500 serotypes and are typically identified through a series of tests of antigenic formulas listed in a document called the Kauffmann-White Scheme published by the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Salmonella.
Salmonella is an enteric bacterium, which means that it lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. Salmonella bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces or foods that have been handled by infected food service workers who have practiced poor personal hygiene. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal and are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but all foods, including vegetables, may become contaminated. Many raw foods of animal origin are frequently contaminated, but thorough cooking kills Salmonella.
Medical Complications of Salmonellosis
Several bacteria, including Salmonella, induce reactive arthritis. The term reactive arthritis refers to an inflammation of one or more joints, following an infection localized at a site distant from the affected joints. The predominant site of the infection is the gastrointestinal tract. And although the resulting joint pain and inflammation can resolve completely over time, permanent joint damage can occur.
Reiter’s syndrome, a form of reactive arthritis, is an uncommon but debilitating syndrome caused by gastrointestinal or genitourinary infections. In a small number of persons, the joint inflammation is accompanied by conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eyes), and uveitis (painful urination). This triad of symptoms is called Reiter’s Syndrome. The reactive arthritis associated with Reiter’s may develop after a person eats food that has been tainted with bacteria. The most common gastrointestinal bacteria involved are Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, and Shigella. Although a triad of arthritis, conjunctivitis, and urethritis characterizes Reiter’s syndrome, not all three symptoms occur in all affected individuals.
Salmonella is also a cause of a condition called post infectious irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a chronic disorder characterized by alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, both of which are generally accompanied by abdominal cramping and pain. In one recent study, over one-third of IBS sufferers had had IBS for more than ten years, with their symptoms remaining fairly constant over time. IBS sufferers typically experienced symptoms for an average of 8.1 days per month.
The Plaintiff’s Illness
The Plaintiff ate at the Defendant’s restaurant located at 1021 Red Fox Blvd., Shoreview, Minnesota on or about September 5, 2015.
Plaintiff fell ill with severe gastrointestinal symptoms on or about September 9, 2015. Plaintiff was ultimately hospitalized at Bemidji Medical Center Sanford on or about September 12, 2015, and remained hospitalized through September 14, 2015. He tested positive for Salmonella Newport. Plaintiff has since required additional follow up medical treatment, and continues to suffer from gastrointestinal dysfunction as a result of his illness.
Since his discharge from the hospital, the Plaintiff has been contacted by the Minnesota Department of Health regarding his Salmonella infection and its relation to the Defendant’s restaurant.
Salmonella: 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. Our Salmonella lawyers 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. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.