After a vigorous investigation of Salmonella Typhimurium infections that had been linked to chicken salad sold at Fareway grocery stores in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deemed the multistate outbreak to be over.
The contaminated chicken salad was responsible for 265 infections spanning 8 states from January 8, 2018 to March 20; illnesses were so severe that 35% of individuals required hospitalization and 1 individual in Iowa died. Those who were infected ranged in age from 1 to 89 years of age and the majority, or 67% were female.
On February 13, 2018, the Iowa Department of Health along with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals issued a consumer advisory, warning the public that the chicken salad, which was produced and packaged by a third party, but was sold at Fareway stores, had been implicated in a string of Salmonella infections throughout Iowa. Fareway stores had already pulled the product from their shelves on February 9.
After searching the PulseNet database, the CDC was able to identify associated illnesses in other states, which were then added to the case count. CDC officials also conducted interviews with those who had fallen ill to glean more information about the foods they had eaten and identify any other potential exposures. In total, 222 of the 265 individuals were questioned, and 194, or 87%, reported having eaten chicken salad products sold at Fareway stores and produced by Triple T Specialty Meats Inc.
Several lawsuits have since been filed against Fareway Stores and Triple T Meats Inc. Three lawsuits alone have been filed by Pritzker Hageman law firm on behalf of D.W., who fell ill just 2 months post-liver transplant. The patient was admitted to the hospital on February 14, where she tested positive for Salmonella; she remained hospitalized in the intensive care unit until February 20. The doctors will need to closely monitor her condition in order to ensure that she will not lose her transplanted liver, the lawsuit asserts. Another Food Safety Law Firm, Marler Clark, has filed 4 lawsuits against the companies.
The CDC estimates that about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths linked to non-typhoidal Salmonella occur each year in the United States. In fact, several Salmonella outbreaks have been beating down on the United States in recent months, and more are to be expected, as Salmonella infections are known to more commonly occur during the summer months—June, July, and August—rather than in winter, according to the CDC.
Salmonella infections are known to result in more hospitalizations and deaths than any other food-borne bacteria, incurring about $365 million in direct medical costs on an annual basis, according to the CDC. As such, stronger infection prevention and control measures are needed.
To view current case counts pertaining to the other Salmonella outbreaks currently hitting the United States, be sure to check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.