Local officials offer tips for avoiding salmonellaWritten by John Krudy | | email@example.com
People across the country are avoiding some varieties of tomatoes after an outbreak of salmonella.
“There are about 1.4 million cases per year of this gastroenteritis version of salmonella, and very few develop into full bacterial shock,” said Dr. Tom Boggs, D.O., senior emergency medicine resident at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. “It results in fewer than 600 deaths a year.”
Boggs said this type of salmonella, from a strain called Saintpaul, is less lethal than the more dangerous and rare typhoidal type.
Consumers have been told to avoid raw red plum, red Roma and round red tomatoes, along with products containing them. Since April, 756 infected people, including three in Ohio, have been identified in 34 states and the District of Columbia.
Boggs said salmonella symptoms take hold in the body within five to 48 hours, and usually seem similar to those of a common cold or flu. But watery and bloody diarrhea indicate the sickness is more serious.
While doctors will consider treating children or already unwell patients with antibiotics, Boggs said the disease is “self-limiting,” and will run its course in three to seven days.
Epidemiologist Brian Dick, director of infection prevention and control at ProMedica Health System, said salmonella bacteria spreads to foods by contact with fecal matter.
“Every year or so we see some produce implicated: strawberries, ice cream, green onions,” Dick said. “It means they’re contaminated even before they get on the market. And we know some of that bacteria can even get inside the tomatoes.”
Boggs and Dick said people can avoid spreading or ingesting live bacteria by cooking meat and eggs completely, keeping food from sitting out, and keeping utensils clean, while not using the same knife to cut both raw meat and vegetables that will be eaten raw.