Some say tomato, some say nationwide outbreak of Samonellosis

June 10, 2008

tomato.jpgCommentary by Chirayu Gor, MD

The CDC has issued an alert regarding the outbreak of a rare type of Salmonella, termed Salmonella Saintpaul. Since mid-April, over 140 persons have been identified in 16 states with this uncommon serotype of Salmonella. Preliminary investigation has implicated tomatoes.

Salmonellosis is not typically life-threatening. Infections tend to be more severe in very young children, the elderly, and patients with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and cramping. Onset usually occurs within 8 to 72 hours of ingesting contaminated food or water. The fever resolves after 2-3 days, while the diarrhea may take up to 10 days to resolve.

Salmonellosis is treated with hydration and electrolyte repletion. Given that the disease is self-limited, antibiotic treatment is usually not indicated unless the patient is severely ill, immunocompromised, or at either end of the age spectrum.

Any patients who present to their physician’s office with diarrhea and stomach cramps and who report a history of fresh tomato consumption should have stool cultures sent. All specimens positive for clinical Salmonella isolates should be forwarded to the NYC DOHMH.