TUESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- The salmonella toll continues to mount in what has become the largest foodborne outbreak in the United States in more than a decade.
With the latest cases reported as of July 4, the nationwide toll fromSalmonellaSaintpaul now stands at 1,148 people in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, according to the latest figures posted on the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 220 people have been hospitalized.
Statistically speaking, the patients range in age from under 1 to 99 years old; 50 percent are female. The rate of illness is highest among those 20 to 29 years old; it is lowest among adolescents 10 to 19 years old and people over 80.
Officials, meanwhile, appear no closer to zeroing in on the cause. Last week, they broadened the search, which had focused on certain types of tomatoes, to include jalapeno and serrano peppers and fresh cilantro.
While health investigators are hard at work, the CDC said on its Web site, "people often have difficulty remembering exactly what foods they ate, and remembering specific ingredients in those foods is even more difficult.
"When food items are mixed together and consumed in the same dish, all the items may be statistically linked to illness. In that case, determining by statistical means which item caused the illness can be difficult or impossible. Tracing suspect produce items back to processors and growers is an integral part of the effort to identify a single source and a possible means of contamination," the agency added.
Meanwhile, a team of Mexican health and agriculture officials is scheduled to meet with U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials in Washington to demand that Mexican tomatoes be cleared of any suspicion in the outbreak, according to theAssociated Press.
Mexico said last week that its own tests found no salmonella in Mexican tomatoes. The FDA has not released the results of tests it conducted in Mexico, theAPreported.