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Outbreak News

Salmonella link to Southeast confirmed

Confirmed salmonellosis cases linked to the outbreak

Pennsylvania: 298, up from 290 the previous day

West Virginia: 32

Ohio: 20

Maryland: 10

Virginia: 5

Karen Roebuck


July 30, 2004

The Roma tomatoes linked to the still-growing salmonellosis outbreak that has sickened 365 people in five states were grown in the Southeast, and federal investigators are visiting suspected farms, a Food and Drug Administration official said Thursday.

The FDA would not identify the states or farms.

State health investigators discovered this week that two strains of the salmonella bacteria have sickened people in the outbreak linked to Sheetz convenience stores, Pennsylvania Department of Health spokesman Richard McGarvey said yesterday.

The Javiana strain has infected 362 confirmed cases in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia -- which for the first time linked five cases to the outbreak yesterday. All ate at a Sheetz convenience store, officials said.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture officials found another salmonella strain, Anatum, July 19, in an unopened bag of Roma tomatoes taken from a Sheetz in Greencastle, Franklin County.

State officials learned earlier this week that three more people, including one who ate at the Greencastle Sheetz, developed salmonellosis caused by the Anatum strain that is a genetic match to that found on the tomatoes, McGarvey said.

All 365 people were infected in early July, meaning that the contaminated food appears to be gone from the market, McGarvey said.

He and Jennifer Morcone, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it is not possible to know at this point if the tomatoes were contaminated at different times in the food chain or if one animal carried two strains of salmonella that tainted the food.

The state health department issued a statewide health alert to doctors and hospitals yesterday evening about the second strain, but it does not change the investigation. All strains of salmonellosis cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever, generally within 12 to 72 hours of infection. Symptoms last up to 10 days.

Officials in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina said the FDA has not notified them that Roma tomatoes growers in those states are being investigated as would be required.

An official with Coronet Foods Inc., the Wheeling, W.Va.-based produce supplier to Sheetz at the time of the outbreak, initially said the tainted tomatoes were grown in Central Florida. It later said they had come from other parts in the Southeast as well. She declined to name the growers, but the company has provided that information to the FDA.

Karen Roebuck can be reached at kroebuck@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7939.

More on this outbreak: Sheetz and Coronet Foods Salmonella Outbreak

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