June 15, 2024

CDC Cronobacter Investigation Widens, 2 Ohio Infants Dead

In a typical year, between two to four cases of Cronobacter are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But a current federal investigation that already includes two deaths in Ohio and two illnesses in Texas and Minnesota among infants who consumed Similac powdered infant formula has widened, according to the CDC.

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its collaborative investigation with the CDC and state partners of Cronobacter illnesses, and one Salmonella illness, in Ohio, Minnesota, and Texas, the CDC received additional reports of possible Cronobacter illnesses and another Salmonella illness.

The agency is using whole genome sequencing tests to sort things out, Brian Katzowitz, a CDC spokesman, told Food Poisoning Bulletin this week. These tests will show if the bacterial strains isolated from infants are genetically related.

Currently, the case total of the investigation stands at four Cronobacter illnesses in Ohio (2), Minnesota (1), and Texas (1); and one Salmonella illness in Texas. All of the infants had consumed powdered infant formula produced at Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Sturgis, MI. All were hospitalized and Cronobacter may have contributed to the deaths of two infants in Ohio, according to the CDC.

Recalled Similac Products Comsumed by Infants with Cronobacter

The CDC’s Cronobacter investigation includes four illnesses and two fatalities among infants who consumed the recalled Similac products pictured.

The infants with Cronobacter consumed the following products before they became ill: Similac Sensitive, Similac Pro-total Comfort, Similac Advance, and Similac PM 60/40, according to the CDC.  These products are among those included in a recall issued by Abbott Nutrition on February 17 and expanded on March 1.

The recall includes Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered infant formula produced at the Sturgis plant. Products included in the recall have all three identifying factors on the bottom of the container.

  • The first two digits of the number will start with the numbers 22 through 37.
  • The code contains K8, SH, or Z2.
  • The product has an expiration date of April 1, 2022, or after.

The Ohio Department of Health is one of the state partners involved in the CDC and FDA’s collaborative investigation, Ken Gordon, a spokesman told Food Poisoning Bulletin. “ODH has regularly provided up-to-date information on this to the public through its social media channels. We also have worked with our public health and healthcare providers,” he said. “In addition, the department has worked aggressively and directly with the 2,389 Ohio WIC participants who were affected by the recall, ensuring they had instructions on how to dispose of or return the products in question, and how to acquire substitute products.”

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