In Florida, the number of cases of food poisoning linked to Foster Farms brand chicken is now four, the state Department of Health announced Thursday. None of the patients had to be hospitalized, DOH said.
Three of the patients were in Miami-Dade and one in Brevard, according to the department. The patients were: a 1-year-old baby, children ages 7 and 15, and an 88-year-old. There were two males and two females, a spokesman said via e-mail.
It is not clear whether the patients were exposed to the Foster Farms chicken via travel, or whether they ate it in-state, at home or in a restaurant. Department of Health spokesman Nathan Dunn said the agency has not found out yet whether the product is sold in Florida.
Salmonella Heidelberg is the bacteria in the chicken that triggered the nationwide outbreak, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control. USDA announced the outbreak on Monday, at which point 278 cases had been identified, most of them in California.
The Florida cases were identified by DNA "fingerprinting" of the bacteria, DOH said in its press release. It urged patients who believe they got sick by eating contaminated chicken to contact their local health department. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever.
The contaminated batch numbers are reported to be P6137, P6137A, and P7632.
As Health News Florida reported on Wednesday, the outbreak struck at the worst possible time: When much of the federal disease-tracking apparatus was shut down. All but two of the CDC's 80 foodborne disease trackers were on furlough Monday when the USDA announced the outbreak.
As of Wednesday, about 30 of them had returned, according to news reports.