Mystery Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak continues to grow

Mystery Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak continues to grow

by Sue Jones
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In the first update in two weeks, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak of unknown origin remains a mystery.

And it’s a growing mystery. With 592 people now infected in 36 states. The outbreak picked up 173 new cases since CDC’s last report on Sept. 30, and during that time, hospitalizations increased by 50 for a total of 116.

The investigation by CDC and the involved states has not identified a food source for the outbreak. They are collecting different types of data to investigate the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg infections.

Epidemiologic data
Illness onset dates range from May 31 to Sept. 29.

Sick people range in age from less than one year to 97 years, with a median age of 36, and 57 percent are female.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

State and local public health officials continue to interview people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. CDC is analyzing the data and has not identified a specific food item as a potential source of this outbreak.

Laboratory data
Whole-genome sequencing of bacteria from 556 people’s samples did not predict any antibiotic resistance.

Samples from three people predicted resistance to one or more of the following antibiotics: amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, and ceftriaxone, gentamicin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline.

Standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory is currently underway. Most people with Salmonella illness recover without antibiotics. However, if antibiotics are needed, this resistance is unlikely to affect the choice of antibiotic used to treat most people because it is rare.

About Salmonella
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois are the hardest hit.

The distribution of patients by the state is Alabama 3, Arkansas 12, California 8, Colorado 1, Connecticut 4, Florida 5, Georgia 2, Illinois 34, Indiana 1, Iowa 3, Kansas 10, Kentucky 9, Louisiana 4, Maryland 45, Massachusetts 11, Michigan 9, Minnesota 22, Mississippi 2, Missouri 10, Nebraska 8, New Jersey 5, New Mexico 8, New York 5, North Carolina 11, North Dakota 4, Ohio 6, Oklahoma 92, Oregon 2, Pennsylvania 6, South Carolina 3, South Dakota 7, Tennessee 10, Texas 149, Utah 3, Virginia 54, and Wisconsin 24.

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