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Salmonella outbreaks in restaurants in Minnesota, 1995 through 2003: Evaluation of the role of infected foodworkers

The 23 restaurant-associated salmonellosis outbreaks that occurred in Minnesota from 1995 through 2003 were reviewed to characterize the role of infected foodworkers and the findings published in the August issue of the Journal of Food Protection.

A specific food vehicle was implicated in four outbreaks and suspected in five. Salmonella of the same serotype and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis subtype as that found in patrons was recovered from foodworkers in 19 outbreaks. Overall, 12% of foodworkers tested positive for Salmonella. 53% of 121 Salmonella-positive foodworkers reported not having had a recent gastrointestinal illness.

Salmonella outbreaks in restaurants are frequently prolonged yet produce a small number of confirmed patron cases. Prolonged outbreak durations suggest a persistent reservoir of contamination. Infected foodworkers likely serve as an important source for Salmonella transmission. Therefore, the article recommends assessment of foodworker infection as essential for controlling restaurant outbreaks.