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Salmonella cases rise to 130

By Christopher Snowbeck

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The number of Pennsylvanians sickened in a regional salmonella outbreak now stands at 130, the state Department of Health reported this afternoon.

The 130 cases in Pennsylvania are spread out among 31 counties. Seven counties including Butler and Westmoreland have at least five residents who have taken ill in the outbreak. Another 24 counties including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver and Washington counties have seen fewer than five cases, according to the state.

But Allegheny County officials said today they had 12 salmonella cases associated with the outbreak. Even so, Dr. Bruce Dixon, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, commented: “The new cases are pretty much over.”

People infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

Richard McGarvey, spokesman for the state Health Department, said those sickened all ate during the first 10 days or so of July.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Agriculture continued testing samples of food taken from Sheetz convenience stores, where the 130 Pennsylvanians ate prior to getting sick.

Agriculture officials announced yesterday that one tomato sample tested positive for salmonella, but subsequent tests by the Health Department showed it wasn’t the bacterial strain that has sickened people. Aside from that one finding, tests of 206 samples thus far have found no evidence of contamination, said Kristina Watson, a spokeswoman for the agriculture department.

Watson said another 29 food samples will be tested. The food products being tested are tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise and cheese that were taken primarily from Sheetz stores. Health officials believe food was contaminated prior to arriving at Sheetz.

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