The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is probing the outbreak of Salmonella food poisoning in nine states while tainted raw tomatoes were claimed responsible for some cases in Texas and New Mexico, according to US reports Wednesday.
The salmonella food poisoning is caused by an uncommon type of Salmonella bacteria called Saint Paulthat that has sickened 57 people in the two states since late April.
About 30 more people have been sickened in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Utah.
At least 17 people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported
"Our preliminary data is showing that the people who became sick in New Mexico and Texas ate raw tomatoes, and that's their likely source of this illness," CDC epidemiologist Casey Barton Behravesh said.
"The investigation in the other states is ongoing right now. We are definitely looking into their tomato exposures as well as other exposures to try to determine if they're linked with this outbreak in New Mexico and Texas," she added.
Tomato types not linked to these illnesses include cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and tomatoes grown at home, FDA said.
The CDC warns consumers in New Mexico and Texas to avoid Roma or red round tomatoes if they want to lower their risk of salmonella infection. In these states, elderly people, infants, and people with impaired immune systems should avoid these tomatoes until the outbreak is over.
(Agencies via Xinhua News Agency June 5, 2008)