By James B. Kelleher
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Health officials in Ohio said on Thursday that eight people had been sickened in the state as a result of a growing salmonella outbreak that federal officials say has now spread to 15 states.
The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of agriculture said the outbreak appeared to be linked to a business in the state called Mt. Healthy Hatchery, which supplies chicks and ducklings to an unnamed nationwide agricultural feedstore.
The two businesses have been working with state and federal investigators looking into the outbreak, Ohio officials said.
In addition to the eight cases in Ohio, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said 31 people have become ill with salmonella as a result of this outbreak in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.
CDC estimates that one in six people in the United States gets sick from eating contaminated food each year. Foodborne illness is blamed for about 3,000 deaths annually.
Salmonella infection is the most common U.S. foodborne illness, and the United States has made no progress reducing outbreaks over the last 15 years.
Last year, a U.S. salmonella outbreak resulted in the recall of nearly half a billion eggs. Salmonella is also linked to contaminated meats, produce and processed foods.
In 2010, it caused nearly 2,300 hospitalizations and 29 deaths.
(Additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein; Editing by Jerry Norton)