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Source of Contaminated Tomatoes Still Unknown: FDA
Date:6/13/2008

228 people in 23 states have been sickened in the ongoing salmonella outbreak

FRIDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Even as the number of reported illnesses from salmonella-tainted tomatoes continued to climb, U.S. health officials were still grappling to find the source of the contamination.

The number of people sickened in the outbreak has risen to 228 in 23 states, with 25 hospitalizations, health officials announced Thursday. Six more states -- Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Tennessee and Vermont -- have now reported cases.

And, officials said, the number of infections is likely to climb as more suspected cases are formally diagnosed as salmonellosis, the infection caused by the salmonella bacteria.

"The CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] considers the outbreak ongoing," Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for food protection at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said during a late-Thursday teleconference. "The lag time between somebody consuming a tomato and winding up in the system could be two weeks or longer. You always see a delay between consumption and it actually appearing in a database."

Despite assurances earlier this week that officials were zeroing in on the source of the infections, Acheson said the cause of the outbreak still hasn't been determined.

"I understand the frustration. We were being too optimistic earlier in the week. The truth is, every time we get more information, we are getting a little closer," he said.

"It's true to say that we may never know what farm the outbreak started on," Acheson added. "The goal is to trace it back to the farm and try to find out what went wrong."

States reporting illnesses include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington,
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