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Salmonella Saintpaul Food Poisoning Outbreak of 2008 -- Timeline of What We Know So Far

Here is a timeline of the important events associated with the massive Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning outbreak of 2008:May 22, 2008
The New Mexico Department of Health notifies the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that four people are ill with a rare strain of Salmonella bacteria called Salmonella Saintpaul and 15 others are ill with Salmonella poisoning of an as yet undetermined strain.June 3, 2008
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers in New Mexico and Texas not to eat certain types of raw red tomatoes.  As of June 3, 2008, there are 57 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning in New Mexico and Texas, including 17 hospitalizations.  In addition, there are approximately 30 reports of illness in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and Utah that are under investigation to determine if they are part of the same outbreak.June 7, 2008
The FDA warns consumers nationwide not to eat certain types of raw red tomatoes.  As of June 7, 2008, there are 145 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning, including at least 23 hospitalizations.  The geographic area of the growing outbreak now includes Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

June 13, 2008
There are now 228 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning with the exact same genetic fingerprint scattered throughout 23 different states.  The FDA reports that it still does not know site(s) of origin of the contaminated product(s).  At this point the FDA still believes that certain types of domestically grown raw red tomatoes are to blame for the Salmonella contamination.  And because the particular strain of Salmonella -- the Saintpaul strand -- is relatively rare, the FDA believes that there is likely only one point of origin for the contaminated product.

June 18, 2008
The FDA reports that the outbreak is not yet over and there are still new cases being reported.  There are now 383 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning with the exact same genetic fingerprint scattered throughout 30 states and the District of Columbia.  At least 48 of these reported cases required hospitalization.  The FDA still believes that the source of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak is tomatoes, but still does know where the culprit tomatoes were grown or packed.  The FDA reports that Mexican officials are now identifying cases of Salmonella Saintpaul infection in Mexico, but it is not yet known whether these Mexican cases share a genetic fingerprint with the American Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.

June 20, 2008
There are now 552 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning with the exact same genetic fingerprint scattered throughout 32 states and the District of Columbia.  At least 53 of these reported cases required hospitalization.  The FDA reports that no deaths have yet been attributed to the Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning outbreak.  The FDA still firmly believes that the source of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak is tomatoes and is now set to inspect specific tomato farms in Florida and Mexico, and the distribution routes for tomatoes from these farms, for clues as to the source of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.

July 1, 2008
There are now 869 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning with the exact same genetic fingerprint scattered throughout 36 states and the District of Columbia.  At least 107 of these reported cases required hospitalization.  The most recent reported case is June 20 for onset of symptoms.  Although the FDA still considers tomatoes to be the most likely source of the outbreak, the FDA and CDC are now considering other foods as the possible source of the outbreak.  The FDA is not prepared at this time to say specifically what other foods it is considering and says only that it is considering certain foods commonly eaten with tomatoes.

July 9, 2008
There are now 1,017 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning with the exact same genetic fingerprint scattered throughout 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.  At least 203 of these reported cases required hospitalization.  The outbreak is now considered the largest food poisoning outbreak in the United States in the last 10 years.  Although the FDA still considers tomatoes to be the likely source of the outbreak, the FDA and CDC are now actively investigating jalapeno peppers, serrano peppers, and cilantro as possible alternative sources of the Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning outbreak.  The FDA and CDC advise that all people at higher risk of severe Salmonella infection (infants, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems) and all people who wish to reduce their risk of Salmonella infection refrain from eating raw jalapeno and raw serrano peppers.

July 17, 2008
There are now 1,220 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning with the exact same genetic fingerprint scattered throughout 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.  At least 224 of these reported cases required hospitalization.  The outbreak is still growing, with 20-30 new cases being reported daily.  On this date, the FDA officially lifts the tomato warning and reiterated its recommendation that all people at higher risk of severe Salmonella infection (infants, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems) refrain from eating raw jalapeno and raw serrano peppers, including salsa containing one or both of these items.

July 21, 2008
There are now 1,251 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning with the exact same genetic fingerprint scattered throughout 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.  At least 229 of these reported cases required hospitalization.  There are now two outbreak-associated deaths.  On this date, the FDA announces that one of the jalapeno pepper samples it has examined is a genetic match with the Salmonella Saintpaul bacteria responsible for the massive Salmonella food poisoning outbreak.  This jalapeno pepper was removed from a produce distribution center in McAllen, Texas and was grown on a farm in Mexico.  The FDA asks consumers to avoid eating fresh jalapeno peppers and food products made with fresh jalapeno peppers until further notice.  The FDA and the CDC continue to claim that tomatoes may also have been involved in the massive Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.

July 21, 2008
McAllen Texas distribution center where Salmonella Saintpaul-tainted jalapeno pepper was located issues a formal recall of all jalapeno peppers distributed by it since June 30, 2008.

July 25, 2008
The FDA announces that jalapeno and serrano peppers grown in the United States are not connected with the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.  The FDA also continues its formal warning that Mexican-grown, harvested, or packed jalapeno peppers should be avoided, and its advice that the elderly, infants, and people with comprised immune systems avoid eating raw serrano pepp
ers from Mexico.

July 30, 2008
The FDA announces that a serrano pepper and a sample of irrigation water at a farm in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico have tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul bacteria with the same genetic fingerprint as the strain that has been responsible for the massive Salmonella food poisoning outbreak.  As a result, the FDA issues a formal warning to avoid raw serrano peppers from Mexico and any foods containing them in addition to raw Mexican jalapeno peppers.  The FDA also reveals that the Mexican jalapeno pepper that tested positive came from a different farm in Mexico than the serrano pepper and irrigation water that also tested positive.

August 28, 2008
The CDC announces that the massive Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak of 2008 appears to be over.  By this time, there are 1,442 reported cases of Salmonella Saintpaul food poisoning with the exact same genetic fingerprint scattered throughout 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada (including 15 in Pennsylvania; one in West Virginia; 10 in Ohio; 16 in New Jersey; and 39 in Maryland).  At least 286 persons were hospitalized, and there were two deaths attributed to the outbreak.

August 29, 2008
The CDC confirms that jalapeno peppers from Mexico were a "major vehicle" by which the Salmonella Saintpaul infection was transmitted, and Mexican serrano peppers "also were a vehicle."  As for tomatoes, the CDC says they "possibly were a vehicle, particularly early in the outbreak."

Check back here periodically for updates.

Berger & Lagnese is your premier law firm in Pittsburgh and all of Western Pennsylvania for food poisoning cases. If you were the victim of food poisoning contact Berger & Lagnese immediately for a free consultation. Let the lawyers at Berger & Lagnese help you with your food poisoning case.

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