The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that they and the USDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections.
Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system — a national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC — to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS), the CDC said.
As of Wednesday, 65 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium had been reported from five states: Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois and Minnesota. Illnesses started on dates ranging from Jan. 8 to Feb. 10, and those who have fallen ill range in age from 11 to 89 years, with a median age of 57. Forty-two of the ill have been female. Twenty-eight hospitalizations have been reported, with no deaths.
Investigators suspect that chicken salad produced by Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc., and sold at Fareway grocery stores is the likely source of the outbreak. On Wednesday, the company recalled all chicken salad produced from Jan. 2 to Feb. 7.
Officials did not indicate that any foul play is suspected. The CDC has recognized Salmonella Typhimurium as a pathogen that may be used by “less sophisticated organizations” that “may or may not have the intent to kill but may use biological pathogens to further their specific goals.” In 1984, the Rajhneeshee cult, while trying to influence a local election, sickened 751 individuals in The Dalles, Ore., by contaminating 10 local salad bars with Salmonella Typhimurium