Epidemiology and Infection

Short Report

Gastroenteritis/Food poisoning

Added value of a household-level study during an outbreak investigation of Salmonella serotype Saintpaul infections, New Mexico 2008

A. L. BOOREa1a2 c1, J. JUNGKa3, E. T. RUSSOa1a2, J. T. REDDa4, F. J. ANGULOa2, I. T. WILLIAMSa2, J. E. CHEEKa4 and L. H. GOULDa2

a1 Scientific Education and Professional Development Program Office, Epidemic Intelligence Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

a2 National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

a3 Epidemiology and Response Division, New Mexico Department of Health, Santa Fe, NM, USA

a4 Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention, Indian Health Service, Albuquerque, NM, USA


In 2008, nationwide investigations of a Salmonella serotype Saintpaul outbreak led first to consumer warnings for Roma and red round tomatoes, then later for jalapeño and serrano peppers. In New Mexico, where there were a large number of cases but no restaurant-based clusters, the NM Department of Health and the Indian Health Service participated with CDC in individual-level and household-level case-control studies of infections in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation. No food item was associated in the individual-level study. In the household-level study, households with an ill member were more likely to have had jalapeño peppers present during the exposure period and to have reported ever having serrano peppers in the household. This report illustrates the complexity of this investigation, the limitations of traditional individual-level case-control studies when vehicles of infection are ingredients or commonly eaten with other foods, and the added value of a household-level study.

(Received August 15 2012)

(Revised November 01 2012)

(Accepted November 21 2012)

(Online publication December 11 2012)

Key words

  • Epidemiology;
  • foodborne infections;
  • investigation;
  • Salmonella ;
  • salmonellosis


c1 Author for correspondence: A. L. Boore, PhD, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd, NE, MS E-04, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA. (Email: amyboore@gmail.com or aboore@cdc.gov)


  The findings of this study were previously presented at the CDC Annual Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference in April 2009, Atlanta, GA, USA.