Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 3, 2009

CONTACT
Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or marla.augustine@nebraska.gov

Sound bites on this topic will be available at: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/audio.aspx

Salmonella Outbreak in Nebraska Source Identified

Lincoln—The number of salmonella cases in eastern Nebraska initially detected last week has increased, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

So far, there are approximately 14 lab-confirmed cases, with 4 considered probable ones and an additional 8 to 10 suspect cases indentified on the basis of reported symptoms.

The outbreak preliminarily has been linked to a source—alfalfa sprouts from a local grower, CW Sprouts from Omaha.

Last week and over the weekend, public health workers have been interviewing individuals involved in the outbreak, as well as people in a control group that helps interviewers determine the food source. The interviews led epidemiologists to conclude that sprouts were reported in a high number of food histories of ill people, thus there was a strong association with sprouts.

CW Sprouts has been very cooperative and is acting with an abundance of caution to voluntarily recall their sprouts.

The FDA and CDC are involved. FDA is doing an investigation at the company to determine conditions that may have lead to the contamination as well as determine distribution of the product.

Nebraska health officials from the Department of Health and Human Services will work with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Laboratory to try to isolate salmonella from existing alfalfa seeds and sprouts to determine how the contamination occurred.

Salmonella is a bacteria. The serotype of salmonella in these cases is called saintpaul, a relatively rare kind. Samples have been sent to the Minnesota Public Health Laboratory to determine if they share a DNA fingerprint. This evaluation will conclusively show if all the cases are linked.

Meanwhile, DHHS and local health departments—the Douglas County Health Department, the Lancaster County Health Department, the Sarpy/Cass Department of Health and Wellness—are continuing to conduct interviews.

So far, two people have been hospitalized and released.

Symptoms include fever, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, nausea, fever and aches, and may include vomiting. It can be contagious.

Preventive measures include washing produce and cooking eggs and meat until done.

For information on salmonella, go to the DHHS Newsroom .

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