Notes from the Field: Salmonella from peanut butter
I skipped the report on kidney damage from synthetic cannabinoid use, and went straight to the CDC notice about an outbreak of a rare strain of Salmonella during summer/fall 2012 in the United States, as published in the current issue of Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report. In late August 2012, PulseNet-the national outbreak surveillance group of the CDC-reported 14 cases of infection due to Salmonella serovar Bredeney, a very rare form of the organism with only 1 documented outbreak in the US before 2012. A quick search of titles of articles through Pubmed suggests that Salmonella Bredeney infections occur throughout the world, and seem to be associated with infections that are becoming resistant to antibiotics. One epidemiological report from Morocco indicated that about 10% of Salmonella isolates were of this serovar, and that multiple drug resistance was prevalent. That study pointed out the critical need to be aware of Salmonella isolates in the food chain, and to actively work to prevent acquisition of antibiotic resistance.
The current outbreak reported in MMWR encompassed 41 patients in 20 states. Ages of patients covered a wide range (1 year old to 79 years old), with the majority of the patients under the age of 10. Ten patients were reported to have been hospitalized, with no deaths reported. For the 32 patients for whom information was available, 78% of them reported eating Valencia peanut butter purchased from Trader Joes. Testing conducted by state clinical laboratories identified Salmonella Bredeney in unopened jars of the peanut butter, which led the CDC to conduct an inspection of the Sunland, Inc manufacturing facility in New Mexico. The manufacturer initiated a voluntary recall of jarred nut butter products, and extended it as well to in shell raw and roasted nuts.
Immediately following the notice of the outbreak, the CDC recommended that consumers comply with the recall and dispose of opened or unopened containers listed in the recall notice. Consumers under the age of 5 are particularly at risk for Salmonella infections, as well as older adults, and other individuals with compromised immune systems. Although the current outbreak appears to be over, the CDC warns that many of these food sources have long shelf lives, and still may be in people’s homes. Awareness of foodborne avenues of infection continues to be our best defense against infection.