State confirms Salmonella infection in outbreak linked to infant formula

State confirms Salmonella infection in outbreak linked to infant formula

by Sue Jones
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West Virginia officials have confirmed a patient with a Salmonella infection as a result of consuming a recalled powdered infant formula.

The state’s Department of Health and Human Resources announced confirmation of the infection today saying it is “the state’s first case of salmonella in an infant as a result of ingesting recalled powdered infant formula.”

This past week officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced they are investigating four complaints of infant illness related to products produced at Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Sturgis, MI. 

Complaints included three reports of Cronobacter sakazakii infections and one report of Salmonella Newport infection in infants. All infants were hospitalized and there was one death, according to West Virginia officials.

The complaints of the illnesses were received by federal officials from September to mid-December 2021, but Abbott did not recall its infant formulas until this month.

Abbott issued the recall of powdered infant formula sold under the brands of Similac, Alimentum or EleCare with the following product codes which can be found on the containers:

  • the first two digits of the code are 22 through 37, and
  • the code contains K8, SH, or Z2, and
  • the expiration date is April 1, 2022 (APR 2022) or later.

These products are widely distributed across the United States and other countries. Formulas matching the codes provided above could be contaminated with Cronobacter and or Salmonella. These bacteria can cause severe foodborne illness in infants with newborns being especially high risk.

“Parents and caregivers with infants on formula should immediately review the formula to ensure they are not using a recalled product,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “They should seek immediate medical care if their infant has consumed recalled formula and their infant is experiencing signs and symptoms of Cronobacter or Salmonella infection.”

Parents and caregivers with a sick infant who has consumed a recalled product are urged to keep opened or unopened cans of recalled formula in the instance that the local health department would like to sample the product.

Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening infections such as sepsis or meningitis. Symptoms of sepsis and meningitis include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice, grunting breaths, and abnormal movements. Cronobacter infection may also cause bowel damage and may spread through the blood to other parts of the body. Parents or caregivers noticing any of these symptoms in their children should seek immediate medical care.

Products that do not contain the information listed above are not impacted by this advisory. This advisory does not include liquid formula products or any metabolic deficiency nutrition formulas.

Healthcare providers and health departments are encouraged to report any confirmed patients of Cronobacter or Salmonella infections who consumed a recalled product to the West Virginia health department’s Office of Epidemiological and Preventive Services at 304-558-5358,Ext. 2.

Families who purchase infant formula with WIC benefits should reach out to their WIC clinic to return any open or unopened recalled products. WIC clinics must verify the products prior to replacing WIC benefits.

WIC nutritionists are a valuable resource to discuss concerns or share alternatives for recalled brands and transitioning your infant between formulas. Find a WIC clinic here.

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