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Unpasteurized Orange Juice Linked to Outbreak

Kim Barker Seattle Times staff reporter

Unpasteurized orange juice from an Arizona company is the likely cause of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 13 people in King County and an unknown number in California and Oregon.

The Sun Orchard produces the unpasteurized juice at its Tempe, Ariz., plant. It primarily sells the "Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice" to commercial places such as hotels and nursing homes. At least 85 restaurants and other food outlets have received the juice in Western Washington.

Officials haven't yet determined whether any is sold in grocery stores, but the company recalled the juice yesterday.

No one in King County has gotten seriously ill from the salmonella. The oldest victim is an 85-year-old nursing-home resident. The youngest is 2.

Local and state health departments started investigating the outbreak after finding three cases of the same strain of salmonella last weekend. Ten more were found this week, and another four or five possible cases still need to be tested, said Mark Alstead, a spokesman for the King County department.

"This is remarkable," he said. "Because in Washington state, there's normally only eight cases of this kind in an entire year."

Salmonella bacteria are among the most common causes of food-borne illness. Outbreaks are often traced to inadequately cooked meat, uncooked or lightly cooked foods with eggs, and unpasteurized juice.

Symptoms, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, headaches and even vomiting, usually develop six to 72 hours after bacteria are swallowed. They often disappear untreated in a few days.

People with questions about unpasteurized orange juice should call 1-800-505-8423.

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