Raw Tuna Sparks Salmonella Outbreak, And The Offending Fish May Still Be At Large

Beware of raw tuna, especially if it comes in sushi form. A Salmonella outbreak has been linked to the fish, and scientists are working hard to figure out just where it came from.

So far, 53 people in nine states have fallen ill with the bacterial infection after eating raw tuna — the majority of those in California, CNN reported. Of those, 10 have been hospitalized, including a 1-year-old.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the sick Californians (by county) include nine from Los Angeles, six in Orange, seven in San Diego, one in Santa Barbara, and four in Ventura. The Salmonella outbreak is scattered across eight more states: Mississippi, Illinois, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, with one each, 10 in Arizona, and six in New Mexico.

It has been going on since March and affected people aged 1 to 83, however, there may be more; anyone infected after April 21 may not have notified authorities yet.

It’s believed the Salmonella paratyphi B variant is to blame; this strain was traced back to sushi. Unfortunately, officials haven’t been able to trace the source of the outbreak just yet, Fox News added.

Tracing an outbreak like this takes quite a bit of detective work. According to CNN, the Food and Drug Administration is currently examining records to identify a common source.

“(It is) labor intensive and painstaking work, requiring the collection, review and analysis of hundreds and at times thousands of invoices and shipping documents.”

In other words, it’ll take time before the FDA can pinpoint the offending fish, notify the manufacturer, remove it from stores or restaurants, and alert the public to stop eating it.

But there are some specifics that could provide some clues: Of the 37 sickened who were interviewed by public health officials in California, 21 said they ate spicy tuna sushi. Health officials there have identified five clusters linked to the same restaurants that serve raw tuna.

In the meantime, everyone will just have to be a bit cautious when they eat out. Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems should avoid raw fish or shellfish — they’re at the greatest risk for food-borne illness.

Salmonella is a nasty business. The symptoms — fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea — get started in the first 12 to 72 hours after eating tainted food, and sickness can last for up to a week. In more serious cases, the infection spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream, and that’s when hospitalization is required. Death can sometimes result.

[Photo Courtesy Sean Gallup/Getty Images]