Health & Medicine

Lexington salmonella case part of outbreak linked to peanut butter

Health officials say a Lexington woman's case of salmonella is connected to a nationwide outbreak that has infected more than 430 people.

The woman began showing signs of salmonella in late September 2008 and was diagnosed in mid-October, according to a news release from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

Salmonella infections usually last about a week, and the woman has recovered, the health department said.

Recent tests showed the salmonella strain to be part of the outbreak. People in 43 states have been infected with the outbreak strain, including three in Kentucky.

King Nut Cos., a distributor of peanut butter made by Peanut Corp. of America, issued a voluntary recall of peanut butter distributed under the King Nut label. The recall was issued after an open container of peanut butter in a long-term care center in Minnesota was found to contain a strain of salmonella.

In addition, King Nut companies issued a voluntary recall of Parnell's Pride peanut butter, which they also distributed. The product is not directly sold to consumers and is not known to be distributed for retail sale in grocery stores.

The health department did not have details about where the woman contracted the disease, spokesman Kevin Hall said, adding that there's no reason for Fayette County residents to panic.

No link to salmonella has been found with jars of common brands of peanut butter sold in grocery stores, according to the health department.

"All indications show it's perfectly safe to go to the store and buy a jar of peanut butter and eat from it," Hall said.

The woman's salmonella was linked to the nationwide outbreak through DNA testing, Hall said. All cases of salmonella are reported to the state.

Most people recover from salmonella infections without treatment. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, most beginning 12 to 72 hours after infection. The elderly, infants and people in poor health or with weakened immune systems are at risk for life-threatening complications.

Anyone in Fayette County who experiences symptoms after consuming potentially affected products should seek medical treatment and contact the health department at (859) 231-9791.