WASHINGTON - An outbreak of salmonella illness in Washington state that may be tied to pork products has sickened at least 90 people in nine counties, the state's health department said on Friday.
The number of reported cases grew to 90 from 56 in about a week, prompting local officials working to determine the cause of the outbreak to request in-the-field help from investigators with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the health department said. "An apparent link to pork consumption or contamination from raw pork is the strongest lead, though no specific source has yet been found," spokesman Donn Moyer said in a statement. "The likely source of exposure for some of the ill people appears to have been whole roasted pigs, cooked and served at private events," he added.
Seattle's King County has seen more than half of the cases that have been reported, Moyer said.
The counties affected are mostly on the western side of the state, though Yakima County in south-central Washington has also seen at least one case.
In all, six people have been hospitalized, though they have since been released.
All those who have been sickened have been infected with the same strain of salmonella bacteria, which can lead to severe and even bloody diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. Serious bloodstream infections may also happen.