Salmonella: 1,017 Sick; Peppers Suspected
CDC: High-RIsk People Shouldn't Eat Raw Jalapeno Peppers or Serrano Peppers
July 9, 2008 -- The
CDC today warned that people at high risk of severe cases of salmonella
infection -- infants, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems --
should not eat raw jalapeno peppers or raw serrano peppers because of the
ongoing salmonella outbreak.
"Other persons who want to
reduce their risk of salmonella infection can take similar
precautions," Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH, deputy director of the CDC's
Division of Foodborne, Bacterial, and Mycotic Diseases, said today at a news
That doesn't mean that tomatoes
are off the hook. Health officials haven't changed their recommendations about
what tomatoes are safe to eat, and tomatoes are still a prime suspect in
the salmonella outbreak, which has
sickened at least 1,017 people, including a Texas man in his 80s who died and
at least 203 people who were hospitalized.
The salmonella outbreak is the
largest food-borne outbreak of any kind in the U.S. in the past decade, says
The FDA hasn't asked restaurants
or grocery stores to pull jalapeno or serrano peppers; there is no pepper
recall. Health officials are also investigating fresh cilantro but haven't made
any recommendations about cilantro consumption.
At least 300 people who came down
salmonella infection from the outbreak became sick on or after June 1.Those
recent cases are the basis for the CDC's new advice on jalapeno and serrano
peppers. Based on that data, Tauxe says jalapeno peppers apparently caused some
-- but not all -- of those illnesses.
(salmonellosis) can cause diarrhea (which may be bloody),
fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Symptoms
typically start 12-72 hours after infection.
The CDC has gotten reports of
salmonella infection from people in 41 states and Washington, D.C., as well as
four Canadians, three of whom apparently became infected while traveling in the
Patients have ranged in age from
less than 1 to 99 years old; most are in their 20s, according to the CDC's
information on 744 of the salmonella patients.
Certain types of
tomatoes started out as the leading suspects in the outbreak, but the FDA
recently began testing cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and serrano peppers -- all
typical salsa ingredients -- for Salmonella saintpaul, the rare
salmonella strain implicated in the outbreak.