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SALMONELLA CASE HAD SPRINGFIELD TIES

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

SALMONELLA CASE HAD SPRINGFIELD TIES (Click the link at left to be redirected to the Springfield News-Leader article which has been copied and pasted below.)

June 27, 2012, Springfield News-Leader - Written by Sarah Okeson

A top Greene County health official said Tuesday that local officials identified salmonella cases tied to Estes Hatchery of Springfield in April and alerted the state Department of Agriculture.

This week — about two months later — federal health officials began notifying the public of an outbreak of 66 cases in 20 states tied to the same mail-order hatchery. Some of the people who got sick told investigators they had handled chicks, ducklings and other poultry. Tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tied the illnesses to Estes Hatchery.

Kendra Findley, the administrator of community health and epidemiology, said she didn’t know about the larger outbreak tied to Estes until about two weeks ago. Findley said Tuesday she couldn’t speculate on what happened after Greene County issued its warning.

“I don’t know how they usually handle outbreaks involving live animals or food,” she said, referring to the state department.

Findley said three people got sick from salmonella tied to Estes Hatchery in Greene County. Once Findley contacted the Missouri Department of Agriculture, she said she was told the business had done nothing wrong.

“They said Estes Farms had passed the last inspection,” Findley said.

Findley said she talked to Rose Foster at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. A state website identifies Foster as the poultry health program coordinator. Foster did not comment about the Springfield business when reached by email Tuesday night.

Findley said Foster told her that Estes Hatchery had posted warning signs. A sign at the business Tuesday said Estes Hatchery “cannot be responsible for any bacterial transfer from birds to humans.”

Findley said Foster indicated that the hatchery got eggs from more than 30 farms.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department put out a press release in April about the salmonella cases that didn’t name Estes Hatchery. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website Monday that the outbreak has sickened 66 people in 20 states.

A man who answered the phone Tuesday afternoon at Estes Hatchery declined to comment.

The CDC said that 22 illnesses had been reported in Missouri. People in 19 other states including Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma have also fallen sick. One death was reported in Missouri, but that person’s salmonella infection was not considered a contributing factor in this person’s death.

The CDC said the illnesses began between Feb. 28 and June 6. Infected people range in age from less than a year old to 83 years old. At least 16 people have been hospitalized.

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