CDC Analyzes Salmonella Peanut Butter Outbreak

Report highlights complexities of 'ingredient-driven' outbreaks and importance of rapid investigation
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The widespread outbreaks of Salmonella infections that hospitalized 116 patients and may have contributed to the deaths of eight people were traced to peanut butter and peanut paste used in other products manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America at its factory in Blakely, Ga., according to a report published in the Feb. 6 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Carlota Medus, Ph.D., of the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, and colleagues describe how investigations beginning on November 25, 2008 into two clusters of infection with the Salmonella serotype Typhimurium were subsequently merged, leading investigators to discover an association with consumption of peanut butter.

Case control studies conducted by the CDC confirmed suspicions that peanut butter was the source of infection when they showed that 69 percent of case patients had eaten peanut butter in the week prior to infection versus 48 percent of the controls, and that 73 percent of case patients had eaten peanut butter crackers versus 17 percent of controls.

"This outbreak highlights the complexities of 'ingredient-driven' outbreaks and the importance of rapid outbreak detection and investigation," the authors write. "Consumers are advised to discard and not eat products that have been recalled."

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