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Tainted Tomato Cases Jump to 383 People in 30 states, D.C.
Date:6/18/2008

FDA still unsure of source; New York City links 7 infections to salmonella poisoning

WEDNESDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- The number of people known to have fallen ill after eating salmonella-tainted tomatoes has now jumped to 383 in 30 states plus the District of Columbia, U.S. health officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

"The marked increase is not due to new infections but mainly because some states improved surveillance in response to this outbreak and laboratory identification of many other previously submitted strains has now been completed," said Casey Barton Behravesh, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a teleconference. "We now have reports of at least 48 persons being hospitalized due to this illness."

The ages of the patients ranges from under 1 to 88 years old, and 47 percent of them are female. The most recent onset of illness was June 5; the outbreak was first discovered in April.

"We are continuing to receive reports of ill people," said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC's division of foodborne, bacterial and mycotic diseases. "We do not think the outbreak is over."

Tauxe also could not say if the outbreak had peaked yet, given that some states are still catching up on necessary laboratory work. "I would say that the majority of new cases had onset around three to four weeks ago, but some new cases onset in the last two to three weeks that might suggest that there are still some cases continuing to occur," he said. "It's too early to call the peak, and we certainly cannot say that it's over."

Officials have still not zeroed in on the exact source of the contamination, although tomatoes from Mexico and Florida are the likely culprits, said Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for food protection at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Still, Acheson seemed less certain than he has in the past that
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Tainted Tomato Cases Jump to 383 People in 30 states, D.C.
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