So far, 39 people from nine counties in New Mexico have been sick with a strain of salmonella called Salmonella Saintpaul, according to a press release from the state's Department of Health.
Several people have been hospitalized, and no one has died. Patients are from Bernalillo, Cibola, Curry, Dona Ana, McKinley, Otero, San Juan, Sandoval, and Socorro counties, the release said. People began to be sick on May 6.
The Department’s Scientific Laboratory has linked 28 of the Salmonella Saintpaul cases to the outbreak strain through a DNA fingerprinting technique. The lab is still testing the remaining 11 Salmonella Saintpaul cases, the release said.
The Department continues to work with New Mexico Environment Department and the Food and Drug Administration to determine the source of the tomatoes.
The Department’s Scientific Laboratory is testing a wide variety of tomatoes from stores across the state to determine whether the tomatoes contain the same strain of Salmonella that has sickened New Mexicans, the release said.
On Saturday, Department of Health officials said eating uncooked tomatoes is the likely source of this outbreak, the release said.
The Department of Health and others worked together to interview patients, test samples and conclude that uncooked tomatoes are the likely cause of the outbreak, the release said.
New Mexico has been coordinating the investigation between other states, New Mexico Environment Department, the Navajo Nation, Indian Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
Until further information is available, the Department of Health recommends the following:
l Individuals and restaurants that bought tomatoes from Walmart in Las Cruces or Farmington, Lowe’s in Las Cruces, or Bashas’ in Crownpoint since May 3 should not eat them uncooked.
l Always wash tomatoes before eating.
l Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with tomatoes.
l Cook food thoroughly to kill Salmonella.