April 12, 2024

Two Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Melon and Cereal: How Does the Government Investigate?

There are currently two Salmonella outbreaks ongoing in this country. The first is a Salmonella Adelaide outbreak that is linked to precut fresh melons. At least 70 people have been sickened in this outbreak; 34 of those people have been hospitalized. And a Salmonella Mbandaka outbreak linked to recalled Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal has sickened at least 73 people; 24 have been hospitalized.

Salmonella Outbreaks

So how does the government investigate these outbreaks? What’s the timeline for these cases? How long does it take from when someone gets sick to when public health officials are informed?

The time to illness that is, the time from when a person is exposed to Salmonella bacteria until they feel ill is usually about 1 to 3 days. Some people get sick within a few hours; others can take up to a week before they experience symptoms. Contacting a doctor can take 1 to 5 days longer.

When a patient visits a doctor for food poisoning, they are asked to give a stool sample. That sample is sent to a lab, and it can take a few days before the illness is diagnosed.

When a person is diagnosed with a Salmonella infection, the sample is then shipped form the laboratory to the state public health facility to perform “serotyping.’ This establishes the DNA of the bacteria and can take up to a week or ten days.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

You can contact food safety attorney Fred Pritzker for help by calling 1-888-377-8900.

It can take a few weeks before public health officials are informed about a Salmonella infection. When the DNA is identified, officials then submit the sample to PulseNet, a national database of bacterial samples. Officials look to see if the DNA matches the bacteria from other people who are sick. If a match is made, an outbreak may be declared, since bacteria with the same DNA fingerprint are likely to come from the same source.

The symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning include fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that may be watery or bloody. If you have eaten precut melon or Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal and have been sick, see your doctor. You may be part of these Salmonella outbreaks.

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