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Minnesota: Salmonella outbreak linked to raw queso fresco sickens 25

Unpasteurized soft cheese has been linked to an outbreak of salmonellosis that have sickened at least 25 people in Minnesota, according to a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) news release today.

Public domain image/Perry-Castañeda Library

Public domain image/Perry-Castañeda Library

The outbreak has been linked to eating a raw Mexican-style cheese, queso fresco that was sold made by an individual in the Minneapolis area.

MDH confirmed 18 cases of infection with the same strain of Salmonella. An additional seven cases of illness occurred among family members or other contacts of confirmed cases, but no laboratory specimens were available.

The individuals became ill between March 28 and April 24. Of the 25 cases, 15 were hospitalized. All have recovered.

Samples of unpasteurized queso fresco collected from the cheese maker were found to contain the same strain of Salmonella as the illnesses. Investigators determined that the milk used to make the cheese was purchased by the cheese maker from a Dakota County farm. Unpasteurized milk samples collected at the farm were also found to match the outbreak strain.

Dr. Heidi Kassenborg, director of MDA’s Dairy and Food Inspection Division, said the outbreak underscores the dangers of consuming unpasteurized dairy products. “It only takes a few bacteria to cause illness. Milking a cow is not a sterile process and even the cleanest dairy farms can have milk that is contaminated. That’s why pasteurization – or the heat treatment of milk to kill the harmful pathogens – is so important,” said Kassenborg.

Dr. Carlota Medus said the outbreak may be over, as there are no suspect cases pending. However, it may still be possible to see additional cases that have not been reported yet from people who consumed cheese prior to health officials’ interventions, which occurred April 23-26.

Health officials advise anyone who may have purchased or received this product recently should not eat it but should throw it away.

Salmonella is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Children are especially susceptible because they frequently put their fingers into their mouths and because their immune systems are still developing.

In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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