USA – FDA: Salmonella removed from Infant Formula Outbreak – Cronobacter sakazakii still cause of 4 illnesses with 2 deaths

Food Poison Journal

Total Adverse Events: 4
Hospitalizations: 4
Reported Deaths: 2
Illness Onset Date Range: 9/6/2021 – 1/4/2022
States with Adverse Events: MN (1), OH (2), TX (1)
Product Distribution: Nationwide and International

The FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners are investigating consumer complaints and/or reports of infant illness related to products from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, MI facility. All of the ill patients are reported to have consumed powdered infant formula produced from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, MI facility.

The Salmonella Newport illness previously included in this investigation of complaints and illnesses has been removed. In the early stages of this investigation, FDA included all consumer complaints of illness with exposure to products from the Sturgis, MI, facility. After further investigation, the FDA has determined that there is not enough information to definitively link this illness to powdered infant formula. CDC confirmed that this single Salmonella illness is not linked to an outbreak. The FDA and CDC are continuing to monitor for Salmonella cases and consumer complaints that may be related to this incident.

Cronobacter infection surveillance is not handled the same way as infection with more common foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7. Cronobacter is not nationally notifiable and not reportable except in one state, which means doctors and labs are not required to report cases to their health department. Because Cronobacter is not a nationally notifiable pathogen, FDA relies on consumer complaints of illness sent to the Agency and on health care providers informing FDA directly about infants with Cronobacter infections. In addition, because Cronobacter is not nationally notifiable, whole genome sequencing (WGS) is rarely performed on these isolates. To date, no outbreaks of Cronobacter have been detected using WGS.

When single cases of Cronobacter are reported, the FDA conducts a thorough review of each complaint, conducts sampling of products, and initiates inspections as appropriate. FDA collaborates with CDC, which has developed a detailed questionnaire specifically for Cronobacter infections that is often used by state health departments in instances of Cronobacter sakazakii infection.

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