Salmonella-Tainted Raw Tuna In Sushi Has Infected Dozens Of People Across The Country & The FDA Doesn't Yet Know Why

I know, I know: You love sushi, and this is the last thing you want to hear going into the first long weekend of summer. But hear me out: Salmonella-tainted raw tuna in sushi is making a whole lot of people sick. Nobody knows exactly where the contaminated tuna is coming from, and so it's not entirely clear when the outbreak will end. So far, 53 people across nine states have been affected, with the majority of the cases (31) taking place in California, and most of the affected noted that they had eaten spicy tuna before they got sick.

If you're in California, you have more reason to worry — especially if you're pregnant, recovering from an illness, have kids who might eat sushi, or elderly. As the FDA writes in a notice posted to its website, the vast majority of cases have been restricted to the southwestern United States — many of those affected by the outbreak in the eastern United States had travelled to California or nearby before they got sick. So if you're in, say, Florida, which hasn't seen a single outbreak and is nowhere near the southwestern side of the States, you have less cause to worry than if you're in Southern California.

Here's the FDA's map of where cases have been found.

So, what should you do if you've recently eaten raw tuna in sushi and have become ill? Within three days, according to the FDA, you'll probably (but not definitively) have developed the following symptoms.

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps

Most people recover from salmonella just fine, but a minority of people — particularly the young, the old, and people with compromised immune systems or pregnant — can die from the illness if not treated promptly with antibiotics. 

As you can see from the FDA's chart of when the illnesses were reported, this isn't a new outbreak: The first reports were logged in March, with more logged by the FDA in April.

Of the 53 people who reported being infected, the FDA wrote on its website, 97 percent ate sushi the week before they fell ill; of those people, 94 percent ate raw tuna, and just over 80 percent ate raw and spicy tuna. The outbreak is caused by the salmonella Paratyphi B variant, and although the FDA is yet to learn exactly where the outbreak came from, it's identified five distinct places where several people ate, or bought food, and consequently became sick. The FDA hasn't revealed where those places are, however.

10 of the 53 people infected were hospitalized, but nobody has died from the infection.

Images: CognitiveTaste/Instagram; FDA.gov

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