Dry dog food manufactured at a Diamond Pet Foods facility contaminated with Salmonella Infantis has now sickened 22 people, according to an update released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Back on May 11, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that 16 people had become sick. Six of them had to be hospitalized, including an infant whose family has filed a lawsuit against Diamond Pet Food Processors and Costco Wholesale Corp.
In the latest tally, 20 people have become ill in 13 states: Alabama; California; Connecticut; Illinois; Michigan; Missouri; North Carolina; New Jersey; New York; Ohio; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; and Virginia. Two people were sickened in Canada.
The CDC reports that the illnesses occured from October 2011 through May 11, 2012. “Ill persons range in age from less than 1 year old to 82 years old and the median age is 46.5 years. Sixty-eight percent of patients are female,” according to the update.
The people were sickened by not washing their hands after handling the dog food or after coming into contact with their dog’s feces. None of them actually ate the food.
On May 17 the FDA confirmed that two dogs became sick after eating the food.
The FDA discovered the link between the Salmonella outbreak and Diamond Pet Foods after testing opened bags of the dog food at the victims’ homes.
Since April 6, Diamond Pet Foods has recalled several formulas of its dry dog food. Other brands including Apex, Canidae, Natural Balance, Solid Gold and Wellness have recalled some of their products that were made in the same South Carolina plant. (For a current list of the recalled products, click here.)
In 2005, contaminated Diamond Pet Foods products manufactured at that same facility killed 23 dogs and sickened dozens more. A few years later, the company paid $3.1 million to settle a class-action suit filed by consumers whose dogs had died or become ill.
The FDA is also currently investigating another Diamond Pet Foods plant in Missouri, in which a different strain of Salmonella (Salmonella Liverpool) was detected.
Salmonella germs can be passed from pets to people by “handling contaminated food, not washing your hands properly after handling food, or through the stool of pets, where Salmonella germs can be shed for four to six weeks after a pet is infected,” according to the FDA.
Among the symptoms of a Salmonella infection in humans are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever, notes the Mayo Clinic website. The symptoms usually last four to seven days.
Pet parents should check their homes for the recalled products and discard them, the CDC advises. Do not handle the dry dog food. If you think you may have Salmonella poisoning, see your health care provider.
Diamond Pet Foods can be contacted at 800-442-0402 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, or go to diamondpetrecall.com.