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258 now sick in salmonella sushi outbreak

At least 258 people in 24 states and Washington, D.C., now have been sickened by raw scraped tuna contaminated with not one but two rare strains of salmonella, government health officials reported Thursday.

Tainted tuna scraped from the backbone of the fish has been linked not only to the salmonella Bareilly strain, but also to salmonella Nchanga infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The two genetic fingerprint patterns of the strains have been grouped into a single outbreak strain, CDC officials said.

At least 247 people have been confirmed with salmonella Bareilly infections, and another 11 have been infected with salmonella Nchanga. Thirty-two victims have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

A frozen yellowfin tun product, known as Nakaochi Scrape, produced by Moon Marine USA Corp. is the likely source of the outbreak.

In April, Moon Marine recalled 58,828 pounds of the frozen tuna product. It wasn't for sale to individual customers, but may have been used to make sushi, sashimi, ceviche and similar dishes in restaurants and grocery stores.

The outbreak could continue to grow. Illnesses that occured after March 27 might not be reported yet because of the time frame between when a person becomes ill and when it's reported to authorities.

At least two people have filed lawsuits against Moon Marine, a Cupertino, Calif., firm. The women, both from Wisconsin, said they became ill after eating tainted seafood.

The CDC's most recent estimates suggest that for every salmonella infection detected, perhaps 29.3 go unreported. Using that multiplier, 7,559 people may have been affected so far by the tainted tuna outbreak.

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