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Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Raw Sushi Grows to 200 Cases, New Strain Added to Outbreak

Food Safety News

By Helena Bottemiller | April 27, 2012

Forty more illnesses have been added to the multistate outbreak linked to Salmonella-contaminated sushi tuna, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday.

The CDC also announced that health officials has grouped a second strain of Salmonella Nchanga into the outbreak investigation. As of late week, CDC said there were 160 confirmed cases of Salmonella Bareilly that have been linked to the same outbreak. Now, CDC is reporting 190 illnesses in 21 states linked to Salmonella Bareilly and 10 illnesses in five states linked to Salmonella Nchanga.

The product implicated, known as "tuna scrape," is raw yellowfin tuna that has been shaved and recovered from tuna bones, which is served raw in sushi products, particularly spicy tuna rolls. The Nacaochi Scrape fish product was imported from India and has been recalled by the California-based distributor, Moon Marine USA.

At least two more people have been hospitalized since CDC's last update, bringing the total to 28. No deaths have been reported.

New York still has reported the most cases, with 35 sickened. Massachusetts has 24 cases. Maryland jumped to 20 cases, from 14 last week. New Jersey jumped to 19, after reporting 8 last week. Wisconsin now has reported 16, Illinois 15, Georgia 11, Virginia 10. Connecticut has 8 cases, followed by Pennsylvania with 7 and Rhode Island with 6. Texas and Missouri are reporting 4 cases. South Carolina, North Carolina, and Louisiana are each reporting 3. Alabama, Mississippi and the District of Colombia each have 2. Arkansas and Florida are each reporting one case.

As food safety attorney (and Food Safety News publisher) Bill Marler noted on his blog Thursday, the number of cases involved in the outbreak is likely much higher than the CDC figures.

According to the most recent domestic foodborne illness statistics, which are calculated by CDC, there are an estimated 29.3 cases that go unreported for every one case that is reported to health officials.

"That would mean this outbreak has sickened as many as 5,860 people," wrote Marler. "If applying a previous CDC estimated ratio of non-reported salmonellosis cases to reported cases (38.6), one would arrive at an estimated 7,720 illnesses from this outbreak."

U.S. Food and Drug Administration laboratories have identified Salmonella in two samples of Nakaochi scrape yellowfin tuna with a PFGE pattern indistinguishable from the Salmonella Bareilly strain and one of the samples also found another strain of Salmonella with a PFGE pattern indistinguishable from the cluster of Salmonella Nchanga infections, according to CDC.

This week, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly from one sample of recalled tuna and one sample of a spicy tuna roll made with recalled tuna.

Public health officials are advising consumers and restaurants to not eat or serve the recalled product.

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