Press Release – Salmonella Saintpaul Outbreak in SE Michigan

22 04 2009

From a Department of Community Health press release.

Salmonella Saintpaul Outbreak in Southeast Michigan Involving Sprouts

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is
issuing a public health alert regarding illness from Salmonella
infections among people who have reported raw alfalfa sprouts
consumption in southeast Michigan. At this time, MDCH is recommending
that people avoid consumption of raw alfalfa sprouts until we have
further information about the origin of the contaminated sprouts.

Michigan currently has 16 confirmed Salmonella Saintpaul cases from six
jurisdictions in southeast Michigan (Livingston, Macomb, Oakland,
Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties; City of Detroit).  The illness onset
dates range from Mar 23 to April 6, 2009.  There have been two known
hospitalizations. Ten of the 16 people reported consumption of raw
alfalfa sprouts at sandwich shops in southeast Michigan.

MDCH is working closely with local health departments, the Michigan
Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to
determine the source of the outbreak. The Michigan cases are presenting
the same genetic fingerprint as uncovered in the Midwest earlier this
year, which resulted in a recall of alfalfa sprouts.

“Anyone who eats raw sprouts may be at risk for exposure to
Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7 bacteria,” said Dr. Gregory Holzman,
chief medical executive for MDCH.  “We want to alert people to the
risk of illness with the consumption of raw sprouts.”

Sprouts are the germinating form of seeds and beans and are frequently
eaten raw in sandwiches and salads. Past sprout-related outbreaks of
foodborne illness have been linked to seeds contaminated by animal
manure in the field, during storage, or as a result of poor hygienic
practices in the production of sprouts. In addition, the warm and humid
conditions required to grow sprouts are ideal for the rapid growth of
bacteria.

Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called Salmonella. Most
persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal
cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7
days, and most people recover without treatment. The elderly, infants,
and those with weak immune systems are more likely to have a severe
illness. Anyone who has recently eaten raw alfalfa sprouts and is
experiencing symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and their
local health department.

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