Salmonella outbreak possibly linked to sushi spreads to nine states

Sushi, raw fish

Public health officials say raw fish could be responsible for a salmonella outbreak in California and other states.

(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

A salmonella outbreak possibly linked to raw tuna in sushi has sickened 31 people from Southern California and has spread to eight other states.

The outbreak was traced to a specific strain of salmonella, paratyphi B, likely linked to sushi made from raw tuna. So far, 53 people in nine states have become ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bulk of the cases have been reported in California, with 10 others found in Arizona, one in Illinois, one in Mississippi, six in New Mexico, one in South Dakota, one in Virginia, one in Washington and one in Wisconsin.

In California, nine patients who fell ill with salmonella live in Los Angeles County. Six live in Orange County, four in Riverside County, seven in San Diego County, one in Santa Barbara County and four in Ventura County.


The multistate outbreak, which occurred between March 5 and May 1, has resulted in 10 patients needing hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.

It appears most of the affected patients ate sushi containing raw tuna a week before they fell ill, according to the CDC. It is unclear whether the sushi was prepackaged.

Of 37 patients interviewed by public health investigators, 21 reported eating spicy tuna sushi.

Salmonella was found in patients ranging younger than 1 year old to 83 years old. Patients who fell ill after April 21 may not have reported the illness yet because it usually take two to four weeks to recover and then notify authorities.


Scientists are still investigating the source of the outbreak.

Health officials have identified five clusters in which affected people ate sushi at the same establishments. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state and local officials are working to identify sushi restaurants, establishments and food distributors linked to the tuna.

“As the investigation continues, this is a good reminder to Californians that there are sometimes risks when eating raw or undercooked meats, fish or poultry,” said Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health.

“This is particularly true for young children, the elderly or people with compromised immune systems who may be at an increased risk of severe illness.”

Salmonella symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea. Symptoms typically appear 12 to 72 hours after exposure.

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