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Today we will talk about Mom, Apple pie and. Salmonella?

It's hard to imagine. Peanut butter, the king of lunch food for American children contaminated with Salmonella! Health officials report this outbreak sickened more than 400 people from 47 states with one possible death.

Peanut butter is not a common source of salmonella so how did this happen? First, a little about this bacterium called Salmonella enteritidis. Within 12-72 hours of ingesting contaminated food or water you get stomach cramps, fever and diarrhea which is sometimes bloody! This can last 4-7 days and, while you feel like you want to die, you rarely do!

You may be surprised to know Salmonella disease is common in the US. About 45,000 cases are reported every year but how many times have you had mild diarrhea and never saw a doctor? So the true estimate is somewhere between 2-4 million a year.

Worldwide, the number of salmonella cases is increasing. It contributes to a host of diarrheal diseases that kill more than 3 million children a year - it's the second leading cause of global childhood death.

Why does this microbe make us sick? When we ingest contaminated food or water it goes into our small intestine where the microbe attaches. Salmonella then invades the cells and produces toxic products. To make matters worse, when our own immune system is fighting the bacteria - healthy cells are killed and the resulting fluid loss can lead to diarrhea.

So, how did Salmonella get into the peanut butter jars? Well - since the peanuts are heated to high processing temperatures, any salmonella would be killed. But reportedly, moisture from faulty equipment mixed with dormant salmonella from raw peanut dust and contaminated America's favorite lunch time snack. Thankfully, this sticky situation is rare.

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For more information...

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a website that is a complete report of the outbreak of salmonellosis originating from contaminated peanut butter.
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The US Food and Drug Administration also has information about the peanut butter associated outbreak of salmonella including a "Questions and Answers page."
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The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota offers a website as part of its mission to prevent illness and death from infectious diseases through epidemiologic research and the rapid translation of scientific information into real-world practical applications and solutions
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