Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Muenchen Infections Linked to Alfalfa Sprouts

Thirteen people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenchen have been reported from four states. Five ill people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local and federal public health and regulatory officials indicate that alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms of Inman, Kan. are a likely source of this outbreak. In interviews, 10 (83%) of 12 ill people reported eating or maybe eating sprouts or menu items containing sprouts in the week before becoming ill. Nine (90%) of these 10 ill people reported eating alfalfa sprouts. One ill person reported purchasing Sweetwater Farms brand alfalfa sprouts from a grocery store.

State and local health and regulatory officials performed traceback investigations from five different restaurant locations where ill people ate sprouts. These investigations indicated that Sweetwater Farms supplied alfalfa sprouts to all five locations.

Laboratory testing isolated Salmonella from samples of irrigation water and alfalfa sprouts collected during a recent inspection at Sweetwater Farms. Further testing is ongoing to determine the type and DNA fingerprint of Salmonella isolated in these samples.

The information available to date indicates that alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms may be contaminated with Salmonella and are not safe to eat.

On Feb. 19, 2016, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a press release warning consumers not to eat sprouts from Sweetwater Farms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that consumers do not eat and restaurants and other retailers do not sell or serve alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms at this time.

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in multiple states and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate this multistate outbreak of Salmonella Muenchen infections.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet, coordinated by CDC, is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories. PulseNet performs DNA fingerprinting on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks.

Source: CDC