In consecutive weeks, Illinois has been a part of separate, multi-state outbreaks of the Salmonella bacteria, the first linked to pre-cut melons and the second to cereal.
    Donnie Simmons, environmental health director of the Livingston County Health Department, said that the closely-grouped timing was likely coincidental, but provided insight into what might have caused the latest outbreak.
    On June 8, the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a release that 60 suspected Salmonella Adelaide cases were identified in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio, believed to have come from pre-cut melon. The outbreak was later linked to a Caito Foods, LLC facility in Indianapolis, Ind. Six people were infected in Illinois, four of which required hospitalization.
    Last Friday, the IDPH issues a release concerning one Illinois case of Salmonella that matches a multi-state outbreak strain, part of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported as 73 cases of Salmonella Mbandaka from 31 states. The CDC investigation indicates Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal is the likely source of this multi-state outbreak. Kellogg Company announced that it would voluntarily recall packages of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal, available in 15.3- and 23-ounce containers.
    “The Illinois Department of Public Health is urging people to check their cupboards for Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and to throw them out if they find them, even if they have already eaten some and have not become sick,” IDPH Director Nirav Shah said. “If you have recently eaten the cereal and experience diarrhea, fever, and cramps, contact your health care provider.”
    Simmons said that cereal-related Salmonella cases were not anything new, referencing that in 1998 an Aldi-distributed oat cereal produced by Malt-O-Meal caused 188 reported cases of Salmonella in 11 states. The CDC report from the time said that the outbreak represented the first instance in which a commercial cereal product has been implicated in a Salmonella outbreak and that “Salmonella … are relatively resistant to desiccation and can survive for long periods in dry environments such as cereal.”
    “Somehow or another the product gets contaminated and its just one of the functions of processing that things don't go right in the baking or packaging process,” Simmons said. “It's hard to definitively say what this instance of Salmonella was caused by, as the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) will need to get into there to investigate, but I'm sure soon that information will come as to what the breakdown in the system there was.”
    Simmons did not know where the recent cases of Salmonella occurred in Illinois, however he was unaware of any reported cases in Livingston County. He encouraged area residents to visit the CDC, IDPH or FDA websites to keep tabs on outbreaks. IDPH noted that the CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continue to investigate this multi-state outbreak.
    The IDPH said that most people affected by Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after eating food contaminated by the bacteria, that the illness usually lasts four to seven days and that most people recover without treatment; However, it was noted that diarrhea for some people may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized, and that the elderly, infants, and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.