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Tomato-salmonella update

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[June 13, 2008]  SPRINGFIELD -- At this time the Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed 29 cases of Salmonella Saintpaul in Illinois that have a genetic fingerprint that matches the national outbreak pattern. However, this number will most likely change as more cases are identified. A person may become ill with salmonella and not seek medical attention, which is why the reported 29 cases may not provide a complete picture of the number of cases actually occurring in the state. All 29 cases are in northeastern counties of Illinois, and six people have been admitted to the hospital.

"The department is still investigating these cases to determine the source of this strain of salmonella in Illinois, but I urge people to follow the Food and Drug Administrationís recommendations regarding tomato consumption," said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The FDA recommends that consumers not eat raw red Roma, raw red plum, raw red round tomatoes or products that contain these types of raw red tomatoes unless the tomatoes are from safe sources as listed online by the FDA. Consumers can continue to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, or tomatoes grown at home. For the most current information on the FDA recommendations, visit

Salmonellosis is often mistaken for "stomach flu." Symptoms, which last from 24 hours to 12 days -- although longer incubation periods have been reported in this outbreak -- include headache, muscle aches, diarrhea, chills, fever, nausea and dehydration. Symptoms usually appear six to 72 hours after ingestion.

In recent years, fresh fruits and vegetables have been implicated in outbreaks of salmonellosis.

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Tomatoes were identified as the culprit in 1990 and 1993 and cantaloupes in 1990 and 1991. Investigations of these incidents did not identify the source of contamination. It possibly could have occurred in the fields where the produce was grown, during processing after harvest or during handling in the distribution system.

At this time the FDA has not determined the source of contamination.

For additional information on food handling safety and food-borne illness, visit; also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new question-and-answer page at

[Text from Illinois Department of Public Health file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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