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Nebraska: Don’t eat alfalfa sprouts amid salmonella outbreak

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OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska health officials are urging people to avoid eating alfalfa sprouts after linking them to 15 cases of salmonella.

Most of the cases have been found in the Omaha area and officials have linked them to several different restaurants and several grocery store chains. Epidemiologist Justin Frederick with the Douglas County Health Department said Tuesday that investigators haven’t yet determined the specific source of the illnesses – other than to link them to alfalfa sprouts.

“We’re working with both our state and federal partners right now, so everybody is working to identify the source of the outbreak itself,” Frederick said.

Frederick said that so far, no cases in other states have been linked to this outbreak and no products have been recalled. But public health officials nationwide have been alerted about the cases in Nebraska, so they can be watching for any illnesses linked to alfalfa sprouts.

Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Most people recover from salmonella infections, but some people develop serious illnesses. People with weakened immune systems, the elderly and young children are especially susceptible. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 26,500 people are hospitalized and 450 die from salmonella infections every year.

Frederick said he’s optimistic that the local outbreak may be winding down, but it is too soon to know that for sure.

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