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U.S. Health Officials Closer to Origin of Salmonella Outbreak
Date:6/11/2008

Certain states have been ruled out as source of contaminated tomatoes, they add

WEDNESDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials said Wednesday they are zeroing in on a source for the recent outbreak of salmonella from contaminated tomatoes.

"The question is where specifically did these tomatoes come from," Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said during a teleconference Wednesday. "We're getting very close, but at this point, today, we don't know for sure where they did come from."

Parts of Florida are still under investigation, although northern Florida, which was not harvesting at the time the outbreaks began, has been ruled out as a source for the contamination.

Several other states have been excluded but, beyond that, Acheson said, "anywhere else is essentially open for question in terms of whether that is the source."

The number of people affected by the outbreak remains essentially flat, with 167 people from 17 states infected and 23 people hospitalized. The death of a man in Texas who died is still being investigated, Dr. Ian Williams, chief of the OutbreakNet Team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during the teleconference. The man had cancer and consumed pico de gallo, which is made with tomatoes.

The actual number of people infected is likely to be many more, Williams said. "Many people with salmonella infection don't have stool specimen tests," he said.

On Tuesday, the warning about salmonella-contaminated tomatoes was expanded to include the entire country.

The outbreak was first identified in May with a cluster of approximately 20 people in New Mexico infected with salmonella which had the same genetic footprint. Another cluster was then identified in Texas.

Officials were then able to trace the outbreak to contaminated tomatoes.

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