Although the CDC was quick to blame the woman’s death on the recalled chicken salad, Iowa’s top health official isn’t so sure.
“It was the same strain, but where she got it, we just don’t know,” said Patricia Quinlisk, Medical Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The outbreak, which appears to have ended, sickened 265 people — 94 of whom required emergency hospitalization due to the severity of their symptoms — from January 8 thru March 20, CDC said in an update issued on Friday.
Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 89 years, with 67% of the victims being female, according to the agency.
Quinlisk cautioned on Monday that although the woman was infected with the same strain of salmonella that has been linked to the chicken salad outbreak, investigators haven’t been able to track down where she got it. They also weren’t able to interview the woman before she died, and they don’t know if she ate the chicken salad, Quinlisk said.
Fareway stopped selling chicken salad in all its stores across the U.S. on Feb. 9, after the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) contacted the company about illnesses. Iowa public health officials issued an alert 4 days later, warning that chicken salad sold at Fareway may be contaminated with Salmonella. Eight days later, Triple T Specialty Meats recalled more than 20,000 pounds of chicken salad after samples from 2 Fareway grocery stores in Iowa tested positive for the same strain of Salmonella that was making people ill.