WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is collaborating with public health officials in many states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to investigate a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.
The CDC says that consumption of chicken is the most likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections. Approximately 81% of ill persons interviewed report consuming chicken in the week before becoming ill. Investigations are ongoing to determine the specific type and source of chicken that might be linked with illness.
Since June 4, 2012, a total of 124 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 12 states. Most of the ill persons have been reported from two states, Washington (56) and Oregon (38). Washington and Oregon have identified Foster Farms brand chicken as the most likely source of the infections in their states.
It is unknown whether Florida is one of the states involved in the outbreak because the CDC is not releasing the names of the other states until it is determined how these illnesses are linked to this outbreak.
Among 124 persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from June 4, 2012, to January 6, 2013. Ill persons range in age from less than 1 year to 94 years, with a median age of 23 years. Fifty-five percent of ill persons are female. Among 97 persons with available information, 31 (32%) reported being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Ill persons continue to be reported at lower levels in the most recent months, which may represent a “winter lull” in Salmonella infections.
Public health investigators are using DNA “fingerprints” of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak. They are using data from PulseNet, the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections.