South Dakota public health officials apparently want to make a game out of guessing the other three states involved in a four-state salmonella outbreak.

Rapid City, the largest town in South Dakota’s Black Hills, is said to be the center of the outbreak.

But Lon Kightlinger of the South Dakota Department of Health  declined to name the other states involved but noted that one is a South Dakota border state and the other two are “far flung.” Because of the molecular similarities of the cases in the four states, the states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are investigating for links.

We’d bet the "border state" is Montana and the "far flung" states are Pennsylvania and probably Texas.  Are there going to be cash awards?!!

Veteran South Dakota journalist Kevin Woster, writing in the Rapid City Journal today, reported that:

"So far health officials have confirmed 22 cases of a specific strain of the bacterial-borne intestinal disorder in the four states. All of South Dakota’s 11 cases – nine adults and two children – were in the Black Hills area. Six of the 11 victims were hospitalized, five at Rapid City Regional Hospital.

State health officials sent out a public notice in late December saying that salmonella cases were up slightly for the year and encouraged proper precautions to reduce the chance of infection. At that time, a Rapid City Regional Hospital official confirmed that five people had been hospitalized at the facility that month for Newport salmonella strain. Another patient was treated for salmonella at the emergency room and released, but it was not the Newport strain.

On Monday, hospital spokeswoman Deb Stillman-Rokusek also confirmed that three other cases of the Newport salmonella strain were detected in laboratory samples sent to regional from other medical facilities for analysis.

Additional confirmed cases of the Newport strain since the late-December announcement brought the total in South Dakota and three other states to 22 cases and prompted state health officials to issue another news release Monday.

Kightlinger, the state epidemiologist, said "it is a fairly potent strain.”

There is no indication of new cases of the Newport Salmonella strain since last month. Health officials have not identified a specific food, source or location suspected in the cluster of cases, nor is there a clear connection – beyond the molecular similarities – between the cases in South Dakota and the other states, Kightlinger said.

“None of the cases in the other states traveled to South Dakota during the incubation period. None at food processed in South Dakota, that we know of, or have a grandma in South Dakota that sent them Christmas cookies or goodies,” he said.