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At least 90 people in 19 US states and the District of Columbia have been infected with a single outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly, according to media reports.

Food Safety News, msnbc.com and other media outlets have reported that FDA and CDC are jointly investigating this new Salmonella outbreak, which may be associated with the consumption of spicy tuna sushi rolls.

The news leaked today via a memo that was inadvertently circulated throughout FDA, spokesperson Curtis Allen told JoNel Aleccia of msnbc.com.

When contacted by eFoodAlert for confirmation, CDC spokesperson Lola Russell replied, “We haven’t confirmed any of the details of this outbreak as of yet – it is still under investigation and a food vehicle has not been identified.

A survey of state health agencies, combined with the information contained in the original FDA memo, has yielded the following information as of April 3, 2012:

  1. Confirmed cases have been reported by Texas, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Missouri, New York State and Louisiana. The remaining eleven states have not yet been identified.
  2. No confirmed cases have been reported, and no suspect cases are currently under investigation, in Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma, or Utah.
  3. Restaurant-associated illness clusters were identified in Texas, Wisconsin, Maryland and Connecticut. Illness clusters of this nature are often instrumental in determining the source of an outbreak strain.
  4. New York State has confirmed 17 cases of Salmonella Bareilly, excluding cases that may have been detected in New York City, which is served by its own Department of Health. One of the 17 New York State cases was hospitalized; the victim has since been discharged and is recovering. No additional cases are under investigation by the state’s Department of Health.
  5. Louisiana has reported two confirmed cases – one male and one female – both of whom were hospitalized and are described as “doing well.” No additional cases are under investigation in Louisiana at this time.
  6. The first outbreak case-patient became ill on February 3, 2012, according to information provided by Meghan Speakes of Louisiana’s Department of Health. Both Louisiana victims fell ill in mid February. The earliest case reported to New York State (outside of NYC) became ill on March 1st.
  7. New York State spokesman Peter Constantakes declined to comment on the possible association between the outbreak and the consumption of tuna roll sushi, preferring to defer to CDC, which is the lead investigating agency for the outbreak. Louisiana spokesperson Speakes confirmed that one of the two Louisiana victims reported having eaten spicy roll sushi; there was no food history available from the other victim.

While early media reports have pointed an accusing finger at spicy tuna roll sushi, it is too early to conclude that this is the definitive source of the outbreak. Even if the sushi proves to be a common element, FDA will need to carry out a trace-back investigation to determine – if possible – which component of the sushi roll may have been contaminated.

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