Sushi lovers beware: salmonella outbreak from raw tuna

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Sushi lovers beware: salmonella outbreak from raw tuna
Sushi lovers beware: salmonella outbreak from raw tuna

Sushi is popular in many areas of the nation, including California. Consuming uncooked meats and seafood comes with a risk of bacterial infection; however, that does not deter many sushi aficionadas from consuming tasty trays of sushi and sashimi. On May, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that it was investigating an outbreak if salmonella (Salmonella paratyphi B) that is likely due to consumption of raw tuna.

To date, 53 cases have been reported in nine states, including 31 in in 6 California counties. Most of the affected individuals reported eating sushi containing raw tuna. To date, 10 patients have been hospitalized. No deaths have occurred. In a statement, CDPH Director Dr. Karen Smith noted, “As the investigation continues, this is a good reminder to Californians that there are sometimes risks when eating raw or undercooked meats, fish or poultry. This is particularly true for young children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems who may be at an increased risk of severe illness.”

The affected individuals in California are residents of six Southern California counties: Los Angeles (nine), Orange (six), Riverside (four), San Diego (seven), Santa Barbara (one), and Ventura (four). Illness onsets have been reported from March 5 through May 13. Their ages range from less than one to 83 years. An ongoing investigation of the source of the outbreak is underway by the CDPH, as well as state and local health departments, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

CDPH official note that its Division of Communicable Disease Control will continue to monitor for additional cases of the same salmonella strain, coordinate follow-up of possible cases, and review epidemiological information to further assess the source of the outbreak. The CDPH’s Food and Drug Branch, together with FDA and food safety partners in other state and local health departments are tracing food distributors and sources from sushi restaurants named by affected individuals.

The symptoms of a salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after ingestion of infected foods. Most individuals recover without any treatment, however, some patients may require hospitalization because of severe diarrhea. If serious cases are not treated promptly, death can result. The CDPH recommends that seniors, young children, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems should not eat raw fish or raw shellfish.

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