JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times reports that at least 56 people in eight Washington state counties have been sickened by a rare strain of salmonella food poisoning apparently linked to eating pork, health officials said Thursday. Most of the cases, 44, have occurred in King County.
The individual cases and small clusters have occurred in several foods and at several events across the region as of Wednesday. Other meat sources could be to blame as well, health officials said. Five people have been hospitalized.
“Why we’re sending out this message now before the investigation is complete is because we’re saying: ‘You’ve got to be really careful with raw meat,’ ” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist.
Some of the cases appear to be tied to whole-pig roasts, he added.
The outbreak strain is Salmonella I, 4, 5, 12:i: -, a germ that has been emerging nationally during the past five years, but never before seen in Washington state, Lindquist said.
Because of the unique nature of the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are assisting with the investigation, Lindquist said.
No cases have been reported in states bordering Washington, so officials are investigating whether pork or other meat processed and distributed in the state might be involved in the outbreak.