Salmonella linked to alfalfa sprouts CDC says
January 6th, 2011
06:12 PM ET

Salmonella linked to alfalfa sprouts CDC says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  is linking most of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 100 people in 18 states and the District of Columbia to eating Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John's restaurant outlets.

The CDC says Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Illinois, is recalling lots of Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts because they have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. The sprouts were distributed in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri and could have been on store shelves and used in restaurants. Other Midwestern states may also have received the sprouts. Spicy Sprouts are a mixture of alfalfa sprouts, clover sprouts and radish.

Half of those infected were from Illinois, where many of those sickened ate sandwiches with sprouts at Jimmy John's restaurants. The restaurant voluntarily stopped serving sprouts at their Illinois locations last month.

Patients range in age from 1 to 75 years; 75% of them are women. Twenty-four percent of those sickened have been hospitalized. There have been no deaths reported. Health officials say the first cases date back to November 1, 2010. States where outbreaks have been confirmed are Illinois with 59 cases; Missouri with 22 cases; Indiana has 10 cases; Wisconsin and Pennsylvania each have 3 cases; Massachusetts has 2 cases; and California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia each have 1 confirmed case.

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that usually last 4 to 7 days. The infected person develops fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea between 12 and 72 hours after becoming infected. Most people recover without treatment. However very young and very old people as well as those with weakened immune systems can suffer severe illness and in the worst cases possible death according to the CDC. The agency says about 40,000 cases of salmonella are reported each year in the United States.

The CDC says the investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, they say consumers should get rid of any recalled Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts.  People who suspect  they may be ill from eating contaminated food talk to their doctor, the agency says. To help reduce the risk of illness, the CDC says, pregnant women, children and the elderly should avoid eating all raw or undercooked sprouts. The only way the bacteria can be killed is by cooking the sprouts.

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