Salmonella strikes five Mainers

Posted Feb. 11, 2009, at 8:06 p.m.

Five Mainers have been sickened by eating salmonella-contaminated peanut butter, including the most recent case identified two weeks ago, according to Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The nationwide outbreak has sickened hundreds of Americans and killed nine.

An adolescent from southern Maine is the latest Maine victim, Mills said Wednesday, adding that the youngster has since fully recuperated. Four other children and young adults have been sickened as well, she said, including one in Aroostook County, two from central Maine and one in southern Maine. One victim was hospitalized briefly, she said, and all have now fully recovered.

According to the state CDC, salmonella is a bacterium found in the feces of humans and animals. Consuming contaminated food causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Symptoms typically last four to seven days and most cases do not require treatment. The elderly, infants, and people with weakened immune system are more likely to suffer severe illness.

The nationwide outbreak was announced by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Jan. 18, when 474 cases had been identified in 43 states stretching back to September. As of Wednesday, more than 600 cases had been confirmed. A manufacturing plant in Georgia has been linked to the tainted peanut butter, which was widely distributed in cookies, crackers, ice cream and other foods. More than 1,800 products have been pulled from store shelves.

Mills said Maine families should discard products containing peanut butter, especially packets of crackers manufactured by Keebler and Austin, which are highly associated with the outbreak.

“People with kids tend to buy a lot of these things, and they last a really long time,” Mills said. Jars of peanut butter with major brand names have not been implicated in the outbreak, she said.

A list of recalled items is available at www.fda.gov

mhaskell@bangordailynews.net

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