The US Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working alongside state health officials to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections that are suspected to be linked to shell eggs produced by Gravel Ridge Farms.
There have been an influx of Salmonella outbreaks linked to poultry this year including an outbreak linked to Rose Acre Farms shell eggs. The previous outbreak, which consisted of infections caused by Salmonella Braenderup, also resulted in 200 million eggs being recalled. The outbreak has since been declared over by the CDC.
As of September 7, 2018, there have been 14 cases of the Salmonella Enteritidis reported from 2 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 10, 2018 to August 7, 2018 with those who have fallen ill between the ages of 1 and 94 years; half of those infected are female. Two of the individuals have required hospitalization for their illnesses, but as of September 10, 2018, no deaths have been reported.
Information is available for 9 of the 14 cases, according to the CDC. Illness that occurred after August 22, 2018 may not be reported yet due to the Salmonella reporting timeline.
Whole genome sequencing performed on bacteria collected from the ill individuals revealed that they were closely related genetically, which suggests a common source of infection for those associated with the outbreak.
As part of the outbreak investigation, health officials conducted interviews with ill individuals about the foods they consumed in the week prior to the onset of illness. According to the CDC, 13 of the 14 individuals (93%) reported consuming restaurant dishes made with eggs. The restaurants that were mentioned in the interviews were contacted by health officials and reported using shell eggs.
The FDA and state health officials traced the source of the shell eggs supplied to the restaurants to Gravel Ridge Farms in Cullman, Alabama.
On September 8, 2018, Gravel Ridge Farms issued a recall for packages of 1 dozen and 2.5 dozen cage-free large eggs. The recalled products have “best if used by” dates ranging from July 25, 2018 to October 3, 2018. The affected products were sold to restaurants and in grocery stores in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.
In addition to the recall, the company has also stopped shipments of the eggs.
According to a tweet issued by the FDA, health officials have started inspecting the Gravel Ridge Farm facility to determine if there is an outbreak source in the facility. (See tweet.)
The CDC advises consumers to throw away or return any Gravel Ridge Farm eggs, regardless of the expiration date.
Salmonella can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours of the consumption of contaminated food. The illness usually persists for 4 to 7 days and most individuals recover without treatment; however, in some cases, hospitalization may be required. Young children, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to complications.
Health care providers living in areas affected by the outbreak should be cognizant of these symptoms and consider Salmonella as a potential diagnosis if a patient presents with them.
This is an ongoing investigation and the CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.
For the most recent case counts associated with the Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Gravel Ridge Farm shell eggs, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.