USA- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked the recent multi-state Salmonella outbreak to a flour source yet to be identified.

A dozen illnesses, including three hospitalizations, spanning 11 states have been reported. However, the CDC says that the scale of the outbreak is probably much larger than the number suggested.

Most of the patients the CDC interviewed say they ate raw dough or batter in the week before falling ill.

According to the CDC, flour was the only common ingredient consumed by the already hospitalized patients.

The CDC issued an investigation notice regarding the matter and, with the U.S Food and Drug Administration, is collecting data regarding the outbreak to determine its source.

Public health investigators have used the database PulseNet to verify that the active Salmonella infections have very similar “DNA fingerprints,” determined via Whole Gene Sequencing (WGS).

The close genetic relationship among results suggests that those infected likely became sick from eating the same food product. The CDC is working to identify that source.

Meanwhile, the CDC urges consumers to follow the standing recommendation; that raw flour products be cooked fully before consumption.

Salmonella bacteria die when cooked or baked, but consuming raw flour, including cookie dough and cake batter, is likely to cause infection. Moreover, raw flour used as play clay poses a risk.

The CDC recommends following recipe or package instructions to cook cookies, cakes, and other foods made with raw flour and using warm water and soap to wash hands, utensils, countertops, and anything else that comes into contact with flour.

People should also use heat-treated flour for homemade playdough.

The CDC advises people to seek immediate medical attention if symptoms persist.

CDC estimates that Salmonella bacteria cause approximately 1.35 million human infections and 26,500 hospitalizations in the United States every year.

Foodborne illness can have a devastating impact, both personally and financially, on people’s lives, the cost of which reverberates through the economy.

Data from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) show the total cost for foodborne Salmonella infections in the United States is a staggering $4.1 billion annually and the cost for the loss of productivity to the economy is $88 million.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps that can start within hours or days of consuming the bacteria.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.