The Checkout

Latest in the Salmonella Outbreak

Annys Shin

With the tally of ill people brushing up against 1,200, the folks trying to figure out--and stop--the source of the salmonella outbreak are hoping a new set of interviews in New Mexico and Arizona will provide more leads.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with state health officials in the two states and the Indian Health Service, are talking to people who fell ill after June 1. For anyone who has been following the outbreak investigation closely, this doesn't sound that earth shattering, but it could prove fruitful. All of the folks being interviewed will be interviewed in person. And some of the subjects, who include people who got sick and people who live near them who did not get sick, live on reservations in remote areas without telephone service. (No land line, no cell towers, nada.)

That means state health officials in New Mexico and Arizona will have a doozey of a time tracking down all the interviewees. The thinking, though, is that people in remote areas are likely to have fewer restaurant and food shopping options, and once they track them down perhaps it will be easier for investigators to find the sources of the foods that they ate.

In epidemiological speak, these are called case control studies and this is the third one that state and federal health officials have done so far in this outbreak investigation. The first implicated tomatoes. The second added cilantro, jalapenos and Serrano peppers to the list of suspects. The third time will be the charm, we all hope.

In the meantime, FDA is still testing peppers at the border, hoping to catch a contaminated jalapeno or Serrano on its way to market. Despite the frustrations they've faced, health officials sound reasonably confident that they will be able to crack this case by virtue of the fact that whatever is making people sick is still out there.

There's a teleconference briefing shortly. We'll keep you posted on new developments.

By Annys Shin |  July 17, 2008; 2:13 PM ET Annys Shin
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the amount of time and different growing reigons from june untill now pretty much eliminates the jalapenos and other items as well. the product simply will not last long enough for there to be a common thread between then and now.The FDA seems to know nothing of the fresh produce buisness and also seem to be doing more harm than good.Not just the financial factor but the fear they have attached to the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables will be far reaching and the impact on public health could not be positive.

Posted by: harold | July 21, 2008 9:31 AM

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