Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sickening Tomatoes

Yesterday the CDC reported that 383 persons have been infected with Salmonella Saintpaul since April. They likely became infected by eating raw tomatoes. Where those tomatoes came from remains a mystery.

Those 383 persons are only the ones whose symptoms were bad enough to land them in a doctor's office, which doctor was keen enough to order a stool sample, which lab's protocols were keen enough to detect the correct pathogen and report the finding, and which tracking system was keen enough to collect and synthesize that data.

How many people were infected but not counted? This study1 says:
"We estimated that there were 38.6 cases of Salmonella infection for each culture-confirmed case."
So, 383 x 38.6 = 14,784 persons not counted.

If I add the counted 383 to the uncounted estimate of 14,784, I get 15,167 persons.

That's a lot of sick people.
1Foodnet Estimate Of The Burden Of Illness Caused By Nontyphoidal Salmonella Infections In The United States, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2004

Photo of red plum tomatoes from Recipe Girl, who dished up a fantastic recipe for Slow Roasted Plum Tomatoes.

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