Maine CDC Press Release

January 13, 2009

Four Mainers Diagnosed with Salmonella

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is collaborating with the Maine Department of Agriculture and federal public health officials to investigate a multi-state outbreak of human infections due to Salmonella.

As of Monday, January 12, 410 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 43 states. Among the 388 persons with dates available, illnesses began between September 3 and December 31, 2008, with most illnesses beginning after October 1, 2008. Patients range from less than age 1 to 98; 48 percent are female. Among persons with available information, 18 percent were hospitalized and the infection may have contributed to three deaths.

Dr. Dora Mills, director of the Maine CDC, said that four Maine residents have been diagnosed with Salmonella that matches the outbreak strain. Maine CDC investigates all reports of Salmonella and gathers information on the patient's food history to determine possible exposures. At this time, no association to a specific food has been noted among Maine cases.

Preliminary analysis of a study conducted by public health officials has suggested peanut butter as a likely source. To date, no association has been found with common brand names of peanut butter sold in grocery stores.

An investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health suggested King Nut creamy peanut butter is a likely source of Salmonella infections among many ill persons in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Laboratory isolated the outbreak strains of Salmonella from an open five-pound container of King Nut brand creamy peanut butter.

The King Nut product is distributed to establishments such as long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools, universities, restaurants, delis, cafeterias and bakeries. It is not sold directly to consumers and is not known to be distributed for retail sale in grocery stores. Clusters of infections in several states have been reported in schools and other institutions, such as long-term care facilities and hospitals. King Nut is the only brand of peanut butter used in those facilities for which information is available.

On January 10, 2009, King Nut Companies issued a voluntary recall of peanut butter distributed under the King Nut label. In addition, King Nut Companies also issued a voluntary recall of Parnell’s Pride peanut butter distributed by King Nut, which is produced by the same manufacturer. The recalled products have lot codes beginning with “8”. No other King Nut products are included in this voluntary recall.

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. Dr Mills advises individuals who have symptoms of salmonella to consult their health care providers.