The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Rhode Island Department of Health and several other agencies have been investigating an outbreak of Salmonella serotype Montevideo which began last July.

The outbreak which as of Thursday totaled 202 individuals in 42 states having matching strains based on DNA analysis.

Thirty-eight patients infected with the salmonella had to be hospitalized and fortunately there were no deaths.

Daniele International Inc. of Rhode Island is the producer of the ready to eat salami products suspected of causing the nationwide outbreak. Just last week, Daniele International recalled 1,240,000 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) varieties of Italian sausage products, including salami due to being suspected in the outbreak. It is important to note that the investigation is ongoing and the salami has yet to be definitively identified as the cause.

In addition, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported in a press release Thursday that ground black pepper samples from an open container at Daniele Inc. has tested positive for salmonella. It has also been confirmed that the pepper contained the same strain of salmonella associated with the national outbreak.

Because of the black pepper discovery, the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pepper, is now involved in the investigation.

Of the over 2000 strains of salmonella, Salmonella serotype Montevideo is one of the most common strains.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.