Helping Solve Salmonella Outbreak Mysteries

Photo: Raw Scraped Ground Tuna

Raw Scraped Ground Tuna

Foodborne Diseases Centers for Outbreak Response Enhancement (FoodCORE) played a key role in solving a 2012 multistate outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly and Nchanga infections. This outbreak was quickly detected by PulseNet, the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that perform molecular surveillance of foodborne infections. The outbreak was widespread, with 425 ill people identified in 28 states and the District of Columbia; 55 people were hospitalized.

Ill persons were identified by five of seven FoodCORE centers. These centers contributed critical evidence to accelerate the investigation. State and local public health epidemiologists, public health nurses, and student interview teams in the centers rapidly interviewed ill people to determine their food history and quickly identified restaurants where they ate. Multiple people reported eating sushi the week before they became sick. This information was crucial to identifying which foods to test and trace back. Using interview information as well as their centers’ enhanced capabilities, environmental health specialists and laboratory personnel collected and tested food samples.

The participating FoodCORE centers worked together with other involved health departments and regulatory partners to pinpoint frozen raw scraped ground tuna as the likely source of contamination. They were among the first to identify the outbreak strains in the contaminated food. The product was recalled, which likely prevented additional illnesses.