Lab testing confirms salmonella linked to yellowfin tuna

MILWAUKEE -- Laboratory testing at UW-Madison has confirmed salmonella bareilly contamination in recalled yellowfin tuna and in a spicy tuna roll made with the recalled tuna.

The lab tests confirm earlier evidence discovered through case interviews and product tracking that the yellowfin tuna was the source of the contamination.

On April 13th, the Moon Marine Corp. of Santa Clara County, California voluntarily recalled all frozen raw yellowfin tuna products, labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA. The produt was not available for sale to individual consumers but may have been used to make sushi, sashimi, ceviche and similar dishes in restaurants and grocery stores.

Since February, 15 Wisconsin residents have had laboratory-confirmed salmonella infections. Three of those individuals were hospitalized and all have since recovered.

A lawsuit was filed Wednesday, April 18th against Moon Marine Corp. on behalf of 33-year-old Wisconsin resident Amber Azzolina. The suit was filed after Azzolina suffered salmonella poisoning. A second, 22-year-old Muskego woman has also filed a lawsuit after getting sick.

Both women apparently ate at the same Brookfield restaurant before becoming sickened with salmonella.

Azzolina consumed a spicy tuna roll allegedly containing the contaminated tuna at a restaurant in Brookfield.  Shortly thereafter, she began to experience severe bloody diarrhea, abdomen pain, fever, and chills. Her lawyers say Azzolina was rushed to West Allis Memorial Hospital where doctors administered IV fluids for dehydration, and determined that she was suffering from Salmonella poisoning.

Attorney Ron Simon filed Azzolina's suit, and is representing about a dozen victims nationwide, out of over 140 known cases. Many of these cases are in the Wisconsin corridor - 14 in Milwaukee, Waukesha or Washington counties.

Azzolina was one of more than 140 people who were allegedly sickened because of contaminated sushi tuna distributed by Moon Marine Corp.

The two Wisconsin victims filing suit are said to have eaten at the same Brookfield restaurant, that was not aware it was serving contaminated tuna that should have been discovered by the California distributor. "I think it exemplifies how dangerous this outbreak is. You've got a product, this sushi tuna, which is frozen, which has a long freezer life. You got these small sushi restaurants that are using a little bit a day, so this proliferation of serving this food could go on for weeks, as it has," Simon said.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services Laboratory has since confirmed that Azzolina’s stool culture tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly linked to contaminated tuna.

Moon Marine has recalled all of the questionable tuna, but Simon says he believes many more people could still be sickened by restaurants not knowing they are still serving it.

The two Wisconsin women sickened are recovering.

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