The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an outbreak announcement late Friday afternoon confirming that the agency has linked 30 cases of Salmonella in nine states to the same source: alfalfa sprouts from Denver, Colorado company Sprouts Extraordinaire.
30 Infected, 5 Hospitalized with Salmonella from Alfalfa Sprouts
Officials stated that the 30 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella are spread across nine states. Colorado accounts for almost half of the confirmed cases (13), with Kansas coming in a distant second at 8 confirmed cases. Nebraska and Wyoming both confirmed two cases of the alfalfa sprout outbreak strains, while the following states each reported one confirmed outbreak case: Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon and Texas.
Government public health officials have established a timeline of relevant outbreak-related events. The first known illness involved in the ongoing outbreak occurred on May 21, 2016, whole the most recent outbreak patient began experiencing symptoms of Salmonella on July 20th. The CDC cautions, however, that illnesses that occurred after July 12, 2016 “might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.”
In outbreaks involving two strains of the same bacteria, patients can be infected with one of the two outbreak strains or both strains simultaneously. In the current outbreak, 24 of the 30 confirmed cases involved Salmonella Reading, 1 person tested positive for only Salmonella Abony, and 5 of the 30 tested positive for both strains.
Five infected individuals had to be hospitalized due to the severity of their illnesses. To date, no deaths have been linked to the ongoing outbreak.
Sprouts Extraordinaire Recalls Sprouts After Product Linked to Outbreak
Epidemiological and laboratory testing confirmed that this single outbreak involves two strains of Salmonella: Salmonella Abony and Salmonella Reading. All evidence available to public health officials at this time points to alfalfa sprouts as the source of the outbreak. Specifically, officials have identified Sprouts Extraordinaire, a Denver, Colorado operation, as the origin of the contaminated sprouts.
Sprouts Extraordinaire, the source of the contaminated sprouts, announced a recall of its “Living Alfalfa Sprouts” on Friday, the same day that the CDC released its outbreak announcement. The Denver sprout producer and supplier packaged the contaminated sprouts in five-pound boxes labelled “Living Alfalfa Sprouts.”
Investigators identified the source of the outbreak through a combination of epidemiological and traceback evidence. An abnormally high number of ill individuals reported eating alfalfa sprouts (or dishes including sprouts) in the days immediately before falling ill, including a number of people who reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts on sandwiches from different restaurants.
In addition, “federal, state, and local health and regulatory officials performed a traceback investigation” from five restaurants. The officials identified restaurants at which outbreak patients reported eating sprouts, and traced those sprouts back to the source. In 100% of the traceback investigations conducted, officials concluded that Sprouts Extraordinaire supplied the alfalfa sprouts in question.