We think we just heard a radio network news report saying that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention now lists the death of 67-year old Paul Rivera of Houston as the first official fatality of the outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul in tomatoes.
Mr. Rivera died June 4th after he and most of his family dined on pico de gallo, a tomato-based condiment, at a Mexican restaurant in late May and were stricken with Salmonella Saintpaul.
Like many a fatal victim of food-borne illnesses like Salmonella, Mr. Rivera had a weakened immune system as he was being treated for lymphoma, a cancer that does impair the immune system. People with weakened immune systems, the elderly, and younger children are always most at risk during outbreaks like the one we are now experiencing.
Death certificates usually are written from the most recent to the contributing factors. Had he not had the fatal serving of pico de gallo, would Mr. Rivera not be alive today? From the family’s statements, we think he would be.