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N Engl J Med. 2011 Mar 10;364(10):918-27. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1005741. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

2008 outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul infections associated with raw produce.

Author information

  • 1National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA. cbartonbehravesh@cdc.gov

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Raw produce is an increasingly recognized vehicle for salmonellosis. We investigated a nationwide outbreak that occurred in the United States in 2008.

METHODS:

We defined a case as diarrhea in a person with laboratory-confirmed infection with the outbreak strain of Salmonella enterica serotype Saintpaul. Epidemiologic, traceback, and environmental studies were conducted.

RESULTS:

Among the 1500 case subjects, 21% were hospitalized, and 2 died. In three case-control studies of cases not linked to restaurant clusters, illness was significantly associated with eating raw tomatoes (matched odds ratio, 5.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6 to 30.3); eating at a Mexican-style restaurant (matched odds ratio, 4.6; 95% CI, 2.1 to ∞) and eating pico de gallo salsa (matched odds ratio, 4.0; 95% CI, 1.5 to 17.8), corn tortillas (matched odds ratio, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.2 to 5.0), or salsa (matched odds ratio, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1 to 3.9); and having a raw jalapeño pepper in the household (matched odds ratio, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.2 to 7.6). In nine analyses of clusters associated with restaurants or events, jalapeño peppers were implicated in all three clusters with implicated ingredients, and jalapeño or serrano peppers were an ingredient in an implicated item in the other three clusters. Raw tomatoes were an ingredient in an implicated item in three clusters. The outbreak strain was identified in jalapeño peppers collected in Texas and in agricultural water and serrano peppers on a Mexican farm. Tomato tracebacks did not converge on a source.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although an epidemiologic association with raw tomatoes was identified early in this investigation, subsequent epidemiologic and microbiologic evidence implicated jalapeño and serrano peppers. This outbreak highlights the importance of preventing raw-produce contamination.

PMID:
21345092
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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