Restaurant patrons in Oregon could be part of nationwide outbreak

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Salmonella Newport victims who ate at an Oregon restaurant could be part of a multistate outbreak, but state and federal officials are not specifically confirming that fact.

Oregon has by far been the hardest hit in the 15-state outbreak that the CDC announced earlier this week. The state has 42 of the nationwide outbreak’s 125 patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent count. It can take up to four weeks before patients are added to the CDC tally because of time needed for lab confirmation and the official reporting process.

A spokesperson for the Oregon Health Authority did confirm that the state department is working with the CDC.

“Oregon Health Authority is working with federal authorities and local public health to continue case interviews and test food samples when available in an effort to track down the likely source of this multistate Salmonella Newport outbreak,” the spokesperson told Food Safety News.

Staff at the CDC did not respond to questions about the Oregon restaurant-related patients, including whether those patients are included in the federal agency’s case count. The CDC reported in its outbreak announcement that no single restaurant or other entity or product had been identified as a source of the Salmonella and that all possibilities are under review.

The local investigation
Meanwhile, local television reporter Katie Streit of KOBI-TV/KOTI-TV is reporting that the county health department involved has received negative results for all of the Salmonella tests taken from the restaurant, Si Casa Flores.  

The restaurant in Grants Pass, OR, was named by county officials in recent days as being a possible source for Salmonella Newport infections among patients in a cluster of illnesses.

Two of the restaurant associated patients have been hospitalized.

Because of shared ingredients, the Oregon Health Authority and Josephine County Public Health are asking anyone who may have dined at any of the following Si Casa Flores Corporation locations in Grants Pass from June 25 through July 7 to complete the survey found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DJQTN8D:

  • Si Casa Flores (202 N.E. Beacon Drive)
  • Si Casa Express (401 N.W. F St.)
  • Xpress Trailer (502 Union Ave.)

The purpose of the survey is to gather information needed to assist in an attempt to identify the source of the Salmonella Newport. Information is needed from both sick and well customers to identify food items associated with the illness.

The nationwide outbreak
Referred to by the CDC as a “rapidly growing outbreak,” the multistate situation is the subject of an ongoing investigation. Overall, the outbreak victims’ ages range from 2 to 92 years old. Officials have not confirmed any deaths.

On July 10, the CDC’sPulseNet identified the outbreak when it found 13 Salmonella Newport infections in three states. Over the next 10 days, the outbreak grew to 125 confirmed patients in 15 states. 

“In this investigation, WGS (whole genome sequencing) showed that bacteria isolated from ill people were closely related genetically,” according to the CDC. “This means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.”

About Salmonella infections
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 developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. 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.

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