Add Massachusetts to the list of states with confirmed cases of salmonella linked to the Malt-O-Meal recall.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says a 73-year old woman and 18-month old toddler are among the 23 people in 14 states stricken with salmonella. Both the elderly woman and the child are said to be recovering.
Maine, Minnesota, and Illinois have also reported confirmed cases of salmonella related to the April 5th recall of Malt-O-Meal unsweetened puffed rice and wheat products sold under a long list of brand names.
What continues to go unreported is what the same plant that produced the same PFGE (genetic fingerprint) Salmonella Agona in 1998 has been doing since 1998? Also, have Salmonella Agona illnesses been linked to cereal consumption over the last ten years?
Craig Hedberg, PhD, a foodborne disease expert and associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, told CIDRAP News that there may an environmental source of S Agona at the plant, despite the steps that Malt-O-Meal reportedly took in response to the previous outbreak in 1998.
"My guess is that the bug may have been in the plant the whole time, but that to have enough contamination to cause an outbreak also required an amplifying event," he said.
Hedberg said that if this is, in fact, the same strain that caused the previous outbreak, it would be interesting to review PulseNet data see if health officials have missed other cases involving the outbreak strain over the past 10 years.