• California and Missouri have one case each, while Washington has logged six illnesses
  • Nine patients said they ate raw cookie dough from Papa Murphy's before getting sick
  • Papa Murphy's has temporarily stopped selling the said cookie dough products

A Salmonella outbreak has sickened more than a dozen people from six states. The illnesses appear to be linked to potentially contaminated raw cookie dough.

As of Tuesday, 18 people from six states have been known to be infected with the outbreak strain, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). California and Missouri have one case each, while Utah has logged two. Idaho and Oregon both have four cases, while Washington appears to be the hardest hit with six cases.

The patients range in age from 14 to 68 years old, with most of them (83%) being female. To date, two have had to be hospitalized.

However, it's quite possible that more people and more states are actually affected by the outbreak, the CDC said. This is because many people who get sick with Salmonella can recover without needing medical care, so they end up not getting tested for it at all. It's also possible that some cases haven't been reported yet.

In interviews with 14 of the patients about the foods that they consumed in the week leading to their illness, 12 said that they ate food from Papa Murphy's — nine ate Papa Murphy's raw chocolate chip cookie dough or raw S'mores bars dough, while one ate cookies that were baked using Papa Murphy's chocolate chip cookie dough.

"Epidemiologic data show that Papa Murphy's raw cookie dough may be contaminated with Salmonella and may be making people sick," the CDC noted. "WGS (whole genome sequencing) showed that bacteria from sick people's samples are closely related genetically. This suggests that people in this outbreak got sick from the same food."

There were some patients who said they did not eat at Papa Murphy's. But in response to the illnesses, Papa Murphy's has stopped selling the raw chocolate chip cookie dough and S'mores bars dough temporarily. The investigation is still ongoing to determine which ingredient in the cookie dough was contaminated.

The CDC is now urging members of the public to check their refrigerators or freezers to see if they have the aforementioned Papa Murphy's products. Those who do are being advised to dispose of the said products even if they did not get sick from eating them. These customers should also wash any surfaces that have touched the dough to avoid cross-contamination.

"CDC always advises people not to eat raw cookie dough, unless it has a label indicating that it is safe to be eaten raw," the agency said.

Symptoms of Salmonella tend to begin around six hours to six days after ingesting the bacteria. While many people can recover even without treatment, some populations may have a more severe illness and would need to be hospitalized. These include young children, those aged 65 and older and those with weakened immune systems.

People who experience serious Salmonella symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, diarrhea for more than three days without improvement, signs of dehydration and difficulty keeping even liquids down due to much vomiting should call a health care provider.

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