Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella Typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells (Photo : Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH)
A private hatchery in New Mexico has been linked to over 300 cases of salmonella, according to an August 19th statement by the New Mexico Department of Health. Privett Hatchery in Portales, NM provides baby chicks, ducklings and other baby poultry to stores throughout the country. So far, the most reported cases have been in Colorado (37 infected), Texas (32 infected), Washington, and New Mexico (19 cases each).
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, more than 80 people fell ill with Salmonella poisoning after eating Salmonella-infected food at the Ecuadorian Independence Festival in Minneapolis on August 11th. That food was provided by the festival's provider - New York Plaza Produce - and represents the largest salmonella outbreak in the North Star State since 167 inmates got sick in 2009.
At the Minneapolis fair, the Ecuadorian food that may have gotten people sick included hornado (slow roasted pork) and cuy (i.e. guinea pig meat), an Andrean delicacy.
While salmonella is typically associated with contaminated meat and poultry, a recent study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases found that vegetarians are at risk, too. That's because when tempeh is made from compromised ingredients, it can cause salmonella poisoning as well. Last year, a strain in the soy-based meat substitute sickened over 100 people in five states.
Salmonella is the bacterium that produces the infection salmonellosis, an illness that last for approximately a week and includes symptoms like diarrhea, high fever and cramping. While the infection is rarely life-threatening, more immunologically vulnerable segments of the population (including children and the elderly) are at greater risk for serious health complications.
A 2010 study found that - between 1990 and 2006, 1,316 people in the United States died from salmonella-related causes, or approximately 82 deaths/year. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are approximately 142,000 salmonella infections in America per year, meaning the mortality rate is less than 0.1%.