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Salmonella outbreak may have claimed two more lives

The deaths of two more people may be linked to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella that began in contaminated peanut butter.

Authorities in Idaho and Minnesota yesterday reported the deaths, bringing the total to five, according to the Associated Press. Two deaths in Virginia and another in Minnesota were confirmed Tuesday.

Though all five had salmonella when they died, their causes of death haven’t been determined. Some 434 people have been infected with Salmonella typhimurium since September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps and usually goes away in four to seven days. People with more severe cases are treated with antibiotics.

Peanut butter distributor King Nut recalled its PB products Saturday. On Monday, Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which makes King Nut peanut butter, recalled PB made at its Blakely, Georgia facility on or after July 1. And yesterday, Kellogg Co. said that as a precaution, it was holding its inventory of Austin and Keebler-branded Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers. The Battle Creek, Mich. company also said it was taking those products off store shelves and telling consumers not to eat them. Kellogg, which uses PCA peanut butter in its snacks, said it hasn't received reports of salmonella among consumers of the crackers.

Here’s more on how salmonella gets into peanut butter, which has been the known cause of two other outbreaks since 1996.

Photo of (uncontaminated) peanut butter by lucianvenutian via Flickr

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