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Moon Marine Co. Yellowfin Tuna Sushi Salmonella Outbreak

On April 2, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it was investigating a Salmonella Bareilly outbreak that was likely caused by the consumption of Salmonella-contaminated yellowfin tuna used in sushi rolls, spicy tuna sushi rolls, and ceviche. Later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined there were 2 Salmonella outbreak strains: Salmonella Bareilly and Salmonella Nichanga cases could both be traced to the consumption of tuna products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement on April 13, 2012, stating that a frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, known as Nakaochi Scrape, sold by Moon Marine USA Corporation, was the source of the Salmonella outbreak, and on April 14, 2012 Moon Marine announced that it was recalling 58,828 lbs of a frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA, for potential Salmonella contamination.

Nakaochi Scrape is tuna backmeat, which is specifically scraped off from the bones, and looks like a ground product. It is commonly served in sushi and ceviche.

On May 9, 2012, Moon Fishery (India) Pvt. Ltd. recalled additional product--22-pound cases of frozen tuna strips--for potential Salmonella contamination. According to the company, the FDA had isolated Salmonella in a sample of tuna strips that had not yet been distributed. Moon India said distribution of its tuna has been suspended while the FDA continues its investigation.

By the end of the outbreak, a total of 425 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Bareilly (410 persons) or Salmonella Nchanga (15 persons) were reported from 28 states and the District of Columbia. 55 ill persons were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

Sushi Salmonella Outbreak: FAQs

Q: I ate sushi and think I may have Salmonella. What are the symptoms of Salmonella infection?

A: Salmonella infections can have a broad range of illness, from no symptoms to severe illness. The most common clinical presentation is acute gastroenteritis. Symptoms include diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, often accompanied by fever of 100°F to 102°F (38°C to 39°C). Other symptoms may include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, headache and body aches. The incubation period, or the time from ingestion of the bacteria until the symptoms start, is generally 6 to 72 hours; however, there is evidence that in some situations the incubation can be longer than 10 days.

Q: What should I do if I think I’m part of the sushi Salmonella outbreak?

A: Contact your local health department to report your illness. If you believe you need medical assistance for your Salmonella infection, contact your healthcare provider.

Q: How will I know if I’m part of the sushi Salmonella outbreak?

A: Salmonella bacteria can be detected in stool. A fecal sample provided to a healthcare provider or health department is placed in nutrient broth or on agar and incubated for 2-3 days. After that time, a trained microbiologist can identify Salmonella bacteria, if present, and confirm its identity by looking at biochemical reactions. Treatment with antibiotics before collecting a specimen for testing can affect bacterial growth in culture, and lead to a negative test result even when Salmonella causes the infection.

If Salmonella is isolated from an ill person’s stool, a bacterial isolate can be compared to isolates from other ill individuals – and possibly from food samples. Bacterial isolates that have matching “DNA Fingerprints” indicate a potential common source of Salmonella infection. Epidemiologists work to determine whether two people with positive bacterial isolates with indistinguishable DNA fingerprints are part of a common outbreak – in this case, one tied to Salmonella-contaminated sushi.

Q: What complications can result from Salmonella infection?

A: Between 5% and 30% of patients who suffer an acute episode of infectious gastroenteritis, including the gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella infection, develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a chronic disorder characterized by alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, accompanied by abdominal cramping and pain.

A small percentage of people who become ill with Salmonella infections develop reactive arthritis, which is characterized by the inflammation of one or more joints following an infection localized in another portion of the body (in this case, Salmonella in the digestive tract). The symptoms of reactive arthritis typically occur between 1 and 3 weeks after the original Salmonella infection.

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