Salmonella Outbreaks Relentlessly Beat Down on the United States


Three multistate Salmonella outbreaks are hitting the United States—here's what you should know about them.

Salmonella has consistently made headlines the past few months as several outbreaks continue to beat down on the United States. The bacteria are responsible for about 1.2 million infections in the United States on an annual basis; food is often the source for the majority of cases.

Currently, there are 3 big multistate Salmonella outbreaks that health officials around the country are persistently working to quell:

  • Salmonella I 4,[5],12:b:(50), Javiana, Okatie,Thompson outbreak linked to kratom
  • Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to chicken salad
  • Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to dried coconut

The outbreak linked to kratom, an opioid substitute, has consistently been in the news. At time of publication, 87 individuals have been infected across 35 states; 27 of these individuals have required hospitalization. To date, no associated deaths have been reported.

Kratom has been a concern for health officials for some time and on November 2017 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory warning consumers not to use the product. On March 10, 2018, PDX Aromatics, a small family-owned local business based in Portland, Oregon, issued a voluntary recall, and later, expanded the recall for some of their kratom-containing products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed these products under recalls associated with the multistate outbreak; however, several kratom-containing products that may not be associated with the outbreak have been recalled due to the risk of Salmonella contamination nonetheless. In fact, today, the FDA announced a first-ever mandatory recall for all kratom-containing food products that were manufactured, processed, packed, or held by Triangle Pharmanaturals, LLC.

Although kratom continues to garner attention in the news, more individuals have fallen ill in a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that has been linked to chicken salad. As of March 8, 2018, the CDC reports that 170 individuals have been infected across 7 states, with the overwhelming majority of cases reported in Iowa. Of those infected, a total of 62 infected individuals have required hospitalization.

The chicken salad products associated with the outbreak were traced back to Fareway Stores Inc. retailers and were sold in their deli department between January 4, 2018, and February 9, 2018, throughout stores located in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Although the stores took the products off of their shelves on February 9, 2018, the producer of the products—Triple T Specialty Meats Inc—didn’t issue a recall for the chicken until February 21. At that time, the producer recalled upwards of 20,000 pounds of chicken salad.

Another Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak has been hitting 8 states recently, one that the CDC has linked to dried coconut products. As of April 2, 2018, the CDC has reported that 13 individuals have fallen ill, with 3 of these individuals requiring hospitalization.

On March 16, 2018, International Harvest, Inc. issued a recall for their Organic Go Smile! Raw Coconut and Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw products, as the outbreak strain was identified in samples tested by the FDA. This recall was followed by 2 subsequent recalls—one on March 19 and the other on March 29—for Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Markets Inc.’s Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic products and for Healthy Nut Factory’s Organic Coconut Smiles products, respectively.The FDA has identified 16 retail locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Montana, New York, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington that have been supplied with these potentially contaminated products.

Interestingly, 2 of these big outbreaks have been linked to Salmonella serotype Typhimurium, which, according to a recent report issued by the CDC which contained preliminary data pertaining to changes in food-borne infections since 2006, has decreased in incidence in 2017 compared with 2006 to 2008.

In order to prevent more food-borne outbreaks from springing up, more infection control measures are needed, along with new or revised meat and poultry performance standards and stronger training and guidance for industry and inspection personnel, the CDC stressed in their report. Additional measures should also be taken to target specific Salmonella serotypes to reduce these illnesses.

To stay up-to-date on the latest case counts and states affected in the multiple Salmonella outbreaks in the United States, be sure to visit the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.

Editor's Note: Some case counts have since been updated since the time of publication. For the most up-to-date case counts, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.

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