In June 2016, PulseNet identified a cluster of 16 Salmonella Anatum infections with an indistinguishable [unique] pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern from four states. Thirty-two patients in nine states were identified with illness onsets from May 6–July 9, 2016. The combined evidence indicated that fresh hot peppers were the likely source of infection; however, a single pepper type or source farm was not identified. Much of this related to different foods people ate, whether specific peppers were included in salsa recipes, etc. The only link was related to testing in in April 2016, the same PFGE pattern had been uploaded to PulseNet from an isolate obtained from an Anaheim pepper, a mild to medium hot pepper.
This demonstrates the challenges posed by our food system, especially for produce items like peppers that are used primarily as an ingredient in many different foods, such as salsa. Cross contamination from the peppers to other items may muddy the investigation.
Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Anatum Infections Linked to Imported Hot Peppers — United States, May–July 2016
Weekly / June 30, 2017 / 66(25);663–667
Rashida Hassan, MSPH1; Joshua Rounds, MPH2; Alida Sorenson, MPH3; Greg Leos, MPH4; Jeniffer Concepción-Acevedo, PhD1; Taylor Griswold, MS1; Adiam Tesfai, PhD5; Tyann Blessington, PhD5; Cerise Hardy, MPH5; Colin Basler, DVM1 (View author affiliations)