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J Infect Dis. 2001 Mar 15;183(6):984-7. Epub 2001 Feb 21.

An outbreak of Salmonella serotype Thompson associated with fresh cilantro.

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Disease Investigations and Surveillance Branch, California Department of Health Services (CDHS), Berkeley, CA, USA.


An outbreak of Salmonella serotype Thompson in California was identified through laboratory-based surveillance and investigated with case-control, traceback, and laboratory studies. There were 35 "sporadic" cases and a restaurant-associated outbreak of 41 cases with onset between 6 March and 31 March 1999. Three case patients were hospitalized. A case-control study found a significant association between illness and eating cilantro at a restaurant (63% of case patients vs. 34% of control subjects; odds ratio, 3.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-11.4). Although common distributors of cilantro were identified, inadequate records prohibited the identification of a single farm supplying cilantro. At room temperature, Salmonella Thompson grew more rapidly and to a higher concentration on chopped cilantro, compared with whole-leaf cilantro. Freshly made salsa (pH 3.4) supported growth of Salmonella Thompson. Cilantro should be served promptly after chopping. Accurate records of the distribution of produce should be available, and bacterial contamination of produce should be prevented in retail and wholesale establishments, in packing sheds, and on farms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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