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Peanut Butter Eyed as Source of Salmonella Outbreak
Date:1/10/2009

Minn. officials find bacteria in King Nut brand; almost 400 Americans in 42 states have been sickened as probe continues

SATURDAY, Jan. 10(HealthDay News) -- Health officials in the state of Minnesota said late Friday that they had found salmonella bacteria in one brand of peanut butter distributed to schools and hospitals, which could be one source of a salmonella outbreak that has struck in 42 states so far.

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture issued a product warning after preliminary laboratory testing indicated the presence of salmonella in a 5-pound container of King Nut brand creamy peanut butter, according to published reports. The product is distributed in Minnesota to long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools, universities, restaurants, delis, cafeterias and bakeries, but is not sold retail in grocery stores.

U.S. health officials had formed a task force this week to seek the source of the multi-state outbreak, which began late last year and so far has sickened 399 Americans, according to the latest numbers issued Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Minnesota finding, according to the Associated Press, will be confirmed in lab tests to be done early next week.

The strain of salmonella has been identified as Salmonella Typhimurium, the most common of the more than 2,500 types of salmonella bacteria in the United States. It's often found in uncooked eggs and meats, said officials with the CDC, who have been investigating the outbreak for several weeks.

"Cases are continuing to occur, and it is an ongoing investigation," Dr. Rajal Mody, a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, said earlier Friday. "The first people began getting ill in September, but it usually takes several weeks before enough cases have been reported to start noticing a possible outbreak."

Mody said
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