Federal health officials estimate that more than 1,500 people may have contracted salmonella food poisoning this summer after eating contaminated eggs.
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an update on the massive egg recall that was issued last month. The CDC reported that investigators in 11 states have identified 29 restaurants or event clusters where more than one person fell ill with the strain of Salmonella Enteritidis connected to the egg recall. At least 15 of those were directly supplied by Wright County Egg, one of two egg producers linked to the food poisoning outbreak.
The CDC reports that more than 2,600 people have been reported to have contracted Salmonella Enteritidis since the May. In that same time period, the CDC usually expects to see about 1,000 cases, leaving more than 1,500 illnesses that it believes are linked directly to the egg recall.
The FDA also issued an egg recall update, reporting that inspections of Wright County Egg farms found that the outside access doors to manure pits at some farms were pushed out by the weight of manure, which was piled four to eight feet tall in some cases, allowing wildlife and other animals to enter the poultry houses. Inspectors also found that the company failed to control rodents, flies and birds in the laying houses, finding bird nests, live rodents and live and dead flies in the laying houses.
At Hillandale Farms, the other egg producer connected to the outbreak, inspectors found that the company failed to eliminate entry ways for pests to get into the egg production facilities, failed to eliminate standing water near manure pits and failed to get rid of liquid manure.
More than half a billion eggs have been recalled since August. The eggs were sold under a variety of labels, including Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Farm Fresh, Lund, Mountain Dairy and others. While the FDA says it is still investigating the source of the egg contamination, the salmonella strain has been found in animal feed sent to both farms.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing mild to severe food poisoning. For most healthy adults, symptoms of food poisoning from salmonella typically resolve after a few days or weeks. However, young children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of suffering severe food poisoning after ingesting the bacteria. If not properly treated, some cases of salmonella food poisoning can lead to hospitalization, dehydration or death.