Since late April, 40 people in Texas and New Mexico have become ill with the same type of salmonella poisoning. Investigators believe they've tracked down the source of the sickness: raw tomatoes.
They believe, specifically, large Roma and red round tomatoes are to blame.
Investigators conducted interviews with ill and well persons to identify what each had eaten. According to the CDC, among the 38 persons who have been interviewed, illnesses began between April 23 and May 27, 2008. Patients range in age from 3 to 82 years, and 48% are female. At least 17 people were hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
At least 30 people in nine other states have become ill with the same salmonella infection; those states are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Utah. Investigators are looking into whether tomatoes were the cause there too.
The CDC suggests the following:
-In New Mexico and Texas, until the source of the implicated tomatoes is determined, persons with increased risk of severe infection, including infants, elderly persons and those with impaired immune systems, should not eat raw Roma or red round tomatoes other than those sold attached to the vine or grown at home, and persons who want to reduce their risk of salmonella infection can avoid consuming raw Roma or red round tomatoes other than those sold attached to the vine or grown at home.
-Avoid purchasing bruised or damaged tomatoes and discard any that appear spoiled.
-Thoroughly wash all tomatoes under running water.
-Refrigerate within 2 hours or discard cut, peeled, or cooked tomatoes.
-Keep tomatoes that will be consumed raw separate from raw meats, raw seafood and raw produce items.
-Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot water and soap when switching between types of food products.
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