The final tally is in for the North Dakota Department of Health’s investigation into the Salmonella outbreak that poisoned over 180 people last summer.  According to an article published in today’s Bismark Tribune, the total investigation costs are nearly $38,000.

Loreeta Canton, public information officer for the health department, said travel and laboratory costs for the investigation totaled $10,054.

An additional cost for staff time devoted to investigation was $27,372 for a total of $37,426.

Canton said that did not include costs incurred by the First District Health Unit of Minot, the local health unit with jurisdiction in the investigation.

Salmonella bacteria are one of the most common causes of intestinal infection in the United States.  The reported incidence of Salmonella illnesses is about 14 cases per each 100,000 persons (MMWR Weekly, 2006), amounting to approximately 30,000 confirmed cases of salmonellosis yearly in the U.S. (CDC, 2005, October 13). In 2005, just over 36,000 cases were reported from public health laboratories across the nation, representing a 12 percent decrease compared with the previous decade, but a 1.5 percent increase over 2004 (CDC, 2007).

As only about 3 percent of Salmonella cases are officially reported nationwide, and many milder cases are never diagnosed, the true incidence is undoubtedly much higher (Mead, 1999). The CDC estimates that 1.4 million cases occur annually (CDC, 2005, October 13). Approximately 600 deaths are caused by Salmonella infections in the U.S. every year, accounting for 31 percent of all food-related deaths (CDC, 2005, October 13; MMWR Weekly, 2001).