Testing at the state’s Public Health Laboratories is helping point disease investigators to the source of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak. A national study of the cases implicated salami as a potential source in the outbreak that made more than 180 people sick nationwide, including 15 in Washington.

By reviewing shopping receipts, health officials verified that 13 cases purchased the same salami variety pack before getting sick. The Iowa Department of Public Health this week confirmed that Salmonella Montevideo matching the outbreak strain was found in the remaining salami from a pack that one of the cases had eaten. This salami variety pack was one of the items recalled by Daniele International (www.danielefoods.com/daniele-recall-statement-20100127.pdf).

A private lab in our state tested a different salami product, also produced by Daniele, and found it contained another type of Salmonella. A bacterial culture from the private lab, but not the salami product, was provided to the Washington State Department of Health for additional testing. Late Monday (January 25), results from the state lab tests of that bacterial culture identified two types of the bacteria. One type matched the findings of the private lab, and the other matched the outbreak strain of Salmonella Montevideo.

The investigation continues, as Washington health officials work with local, state, and federal partners to find the contaminated ingredient (www.cdc.gov/salmonella/montevideo/index.html).

Washington originally listed 14 cases in the outbreak; another was added this week. They’re from Clark (3 cases), King (3), Snohomish (3), Jefferson (1), Thurston (1), Pierce (1), and Whatcom (1) counties. Only one of Washington’s cases was hospitalized. All 15 were sick between July and December 2009 and have since recovered. Public health officials advise people not to eat the recalled products, and to follow the instructions issued by the manufacturer.