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Salmonella Muenchen Outbreak Sickens Individuals in Four States

A recent outbreak of Salmonella Muenchen in four states has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to partner with the US Food and Drug Administration to address the outbreak.
According to the CDC, 13 people from four states: Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania are infected with the current Salmonella Muenchen strain. Illnesses have been reported from December 1, 2015 through January 21, 2016. Among those who are infected, five are reported as being hospitalized. Any individuals who became infected after January 31, 2016 might not have been reported, yet, as there is a time period of 2 to 4 weeks between when a person falls ill and the illness is reported.
The CDC and FDA believe that alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms of Inman, Kansas are the likely source of the outbreak.
The signs and symptoms of Salmonella Muenchen infection typically occur 12-72 hours after being exposed and last 4-7 days. Symptoms include:
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps
In rare cases, diarrhea may be so severe that individuals who are sickened may need to be hospitalized. The infection may spread from the intestines into the bloodstream and other places in the body. If a person is not promptly treated with antibiotics, a Salmonella infection may lead to death.
The CDC are utilizing the new PulseNet system, “the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories” to identify illnesses that may be part of the outbreak. The PulseNet system utilizes pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and whole genome sequencing to perform DNA fingerprinting on Salmonella bacteria isolated from people who are sickened. The CDC is working with state and local public health partners on continued laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify additional ill people and to interview those people about foods they ate before they got sick.
According to the CDC, “restaurants and other retailers [should] not sell or serve alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms at this time” and a press release issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on February 19, 2016 warns consumers not to eat these products.

This is an ongoing investigation, and the CDC will update the public when more information becomes available.
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