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Friday, April 8, 2005; Page A08

Tomatoes Are Blamed In Salmonella Outbreak

Contaminated Roma tomatoes were the probable cause of a string of salmonella outbreaks that made 561 people sick in the United States and Canada last summer, U.S. health officials said yesterday.

Salmonella is a common bacterium sometimes found in eggs, raw milk and raw meat. It typically causes diarrhea and flulike symptoms, and is rarely fatal.

Tomatoes have been linked to salmonella in the United States since 1990 and are believed to have played a key role in three outbreaks in North America last summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report.

More than 150 people in 18 states, stretching from Kansas to New Hampshire as well as the Canadian province of Ontario, were hospitalized for treatment of salmonella infection, the agency said.

Most had eaten at a U.S. delicatessen chain, according to the CDC, which did not identify the chain. Tomatoes with salmonella were found at one location.

Health officials have been unable to determine the exact source of the suspect Roma tomatoes.

Institute of Medicine Backs AIDS Drug Study

Medical experts defended a study that led to the widespread use of a single AIDS drug called nevirapine to protect newborns, saying allegations that the research was flawed were unfounded.

AIDS activists and researchers said they hoped the report would lay to rest doubts about the safety and benefits of using nevirapine and other drugs to protect babies.

The Institute of Medicine, an independent group that advises the U.S. government, was asked to investigate allegations by Jonathan Fishbein, a National Institutes of Health researcher who attacked the main study that led to the widespread use of nevirapine.

Fishbein said the study, conducted in Uganda and called HIVNET 012, was sloppily conducted and did not warn women of the risks of toxicity and resistance. He could not immediately be reached.

The NIH said his allegations were false and endangered the lives of babies because people would be afraid to use a valuable drug. The Institute of Medicine panel said it found no sloppy research or other major problems in the trial.

-- From News Services

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