Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 1:42 pm
Foster Farms, California's biggest chicken producer, has been accused of poisoning people with salmonella bacteria. After an outbreak last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture threatened to shut down three of the company's plants.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has confirmed 15 cases of salmonella poisoning in Hopkins, Webster and Muhlenberg counties.
The outbreak, which was declared in mid-September, has claimed one life and left five people hospitalized. Cabinet officials say the same genetic fingerprint links at least eight regional salmonella cases.
The Food and Drug Administration says salmonella found at a cantaloupe farm in southwestern Indiana matches the "DNA fingerprint" of the salmonella responsible for killing two Kentuckians and sickening 150 people in 21 states.
State health officials have traced a strain of salmonella that’s affected many people in western Kentucky to Indiana-grown cantaloupes. State laboratory tests found a match between the strain and melons grown in southwestern Indiana and sold in Kentucky grocery stores.
State Health Department officials are looking for the cause of increased Salmonella cases in the region. Purchase District Health Department Epidemiologist Brandi Earp says they’re examining reported cases this summer to try to find any links between them. She says while the number of cases is high, they’re not considering it an outbreak. She says,
“Kentucky Department for Public Health would just like to share that they’re seeing a little bit more increase in Salmonella cases than usual, and they just want to heighten awareness for the public and for providers.”