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Salmonella suspected in county

Calls pour in to health department; about 20 report symptoms

Kate Martin, The Daily Reporter-Herald

February 17, 2007

About 20 people in Larimer County who have gotten sick this week could be victims of salmonella poisoning from contaminated peanut butter.

Many more have called the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment to report that they have bought or ingested potentially contaminated peanut butter, said Kim Meyer-Lee, a regional epidemiologist with the department.

“It’s been a busy morning,” Meyer-Lee said Friday.

She said she doesn’t have an exact count of people who have sought help or asked questions about the recall.

She said about 20 people have called with symptoms: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But those symptoms also could be caused by other food- borne illnesses, she said.

The best thing to do is just throw the peanut butter out, Meyer-Lee said. She said the peanut butter is not safe for man or beast.

“People are asking if it’s OK to feed it to the pets,” she said. “The answer is no. The pets could possibly get sick, too.” Monsters Inc Consumers can identify potentially contaminated peanut butter by the code “2111” on the lid. The number denotes where the peanut butter was made.

On Wednesday, ConAgra in Omaha, Neb., and the Food and Drug Administration recalled batches of Peter Pan and Wal-Mart’s Great Value house brand peanut butter, both manufactured by ConAgra.

Salmonella sickens about 40,000 people a year in the U.S. and kills about 600. It can cause diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain and vomiting. The only known salmonella outbreak in peanut butter — in Australia during the mid-1990s — was blamed on unsanitary plant conditions.

Meyer-Lee said if people think they are sick, they should talk with their doctor.

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