Government Reports New Salmonella Outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control has learned of more than 100 new salmonella cases. The current outbreaks have been linked to tainted tomatoes.

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BILL WOLFF:

From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

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MIKE PESCA, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, glove. Oh, wait, I read that wrong. Oh, yeah, G. Love. Ah, there we go. I'm Mike Pesca. It's Thursday, June 19th, yes, and singer-songwriter and funkster (ph) himself, G. Love, will be in here. There is a famous story of Ed Sullivan in introducing Duke Ellington - maybe it was the first time Duke Ellington was on Ed Sullivan's show, with his famous song "Take the A Train."

(As Announcer) And now, ladies and gentleman, Duke Ellington with "Take a Train."

If they ask Ed Sullivan to host the show today, he'd have to end it with, Sully, out. And speaking of musicians, you know, this Tim Russert coverage, and we'll be talking about the coverage a little later on, but a lot of Bruce Springsteen news associated with Tim Russert that I didn't realize. For instance, Springsteen in 1975 was simultaneously on the cover of Time and Newsweek, the first time that had ever happened with a non-politician. And Russert's wife, Maureen Orth, wrote the Newsweek cover story.

And it turns out Russert once booked Springsteen to play at his law school, and Springsteen showed up at the funeral yesterday to play "Thunder Road" for, actually, the third time. A friend of mine, at his funeral, they played "Thunder Road," it brought a lot back. It convinced me, and keep a copy of this, at my funeral, please play "The Promise Land," just because "Thunder Road" is getting as little cliche by now, I would say.

So, we will be talking about the death of "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert. We'll be focusing on the media attention, because as great a journalist as Russert was, and he did a fantastic job with "Meet the Press," I mean, look at the wall-to-wall coverage that the NBC networks gave him, you have to ask yourself, was it too much? And not only will we ask ourselves that, we'll ask Slate's Jack Shafer.

We'll also continue our series on oil and energy when we focus on ethanol, and I'll talk to James Howard Kunstler, who argues that the high price of gas will bring people out of the exurbs and back to small cluster towns. And as I said, G. Love, not glove, but G. Love of G. Love & Special Sauce, he's in the studio to talk and play some songs from his new album, "Superhero Brother." All that, plus today's headlines, coming up. But first...

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PESCA: Three hundred and eighty-three cases of salmonella linked to tomatoes. That is the new number released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday. The outbreak stretches across 30 strates - 30 states and the District of Columbia.

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Dr. ROBERT V. TAUXE (Deputy Director, Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) We do not think the outbreak is over.

PESCA: That is Dr. Robert Tauxe of the CDC. The new number is an increase of more than 100 cases over what was known earlier this week. Tauxe says that most of those got sick weeks ago, and the jump is due to better reporting and testing. At least 48 victims have been hospitalized, the CDC said.

No deaths have been officially blamed on the outbreak, but a salmonella infection may have been the factor in the death of a Texas man, who was also suffering from cancer. The FDA is warning consumers against eating the potential baddies, raw, red plum tomatoes, red Roma tomatoes, or round, red tomatoes which have been grown in Florida or Mexico. David Acheson is tracking the outbreak for the FDA. He spoke on NPR yesterday.

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Dr. DAVID ACHESON (Director, Food Safety and Security Staff, U.S. Food and Drug Administration): Tracking tomatoes is really hard, because there are so many different arms and legs to tomato supply chains. I want to raise certainly that the possibility that we may not identify a farm where this happened.

PESCA: Acheson talked about tomato forensics, which got us here at the BPP excited about the idea of "Tomato: CSI." It does not involve David Caruso in any way, and it pretty much goes like this. Investigators follow an ever-branching chain from sick person to the restaurant or grocer where they got their tomato. Then they track down each of that restaurant or grocery's many suppliers. Then it goes to each of those suppliers' many distributors.

Dr. ACHESON: You go back to a distributor and you say, well, where do you get your tomatoes from? And they say, well, in this timeframe, we usually get them from these four growers. The web widens.

(Soundbite of song "Who Are You?")

THE WHO: (Singing) Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?

PESCA: We added The Who music, because "CSI" has that music. Acheson says that many distributors and the perishability (ph) of tomatoes adds to the mystery of the outbreak's origin. You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on this story. Now let's get some more of today's headlines with the BPP's Matt Martinez.

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