MONDAY, April 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) — U.S. health officials are investigating a Salmonella Infantis outbreak that is likely linked to raw flour. It is not clear what brand of flour is the culprit.

Investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration have identified 12 illnesses and three hospitalizations occurring across 11 states. Reported illnesses started on Dec. 6 and continued through Feb. 13. Those sickened are mostly female and range from 12 to 81 years old.

The true number of people infected in this outbreak could be much higher than the number reported, since many people recover without medical treatment or do not get tested for Salmonella. It also takes three to four weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak, the health agency said.

So far, states with known illnesses include Oregon, California, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and New York. Among the seven people investigators interviewed, six reported eating raw dough or batter. Flour was the only common ingredient, and investigators are working hard to identify the brand.

The CDC advises consumers to not eat or play with uncooked flour, dough, or batter, noting any raw — or unbaked — flour can contain germs like Salmonella.

Symptoms of infection with Salmonella include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. These typically start somewhere between six hours and six days after swallowing the bacteria. Most people recover without treatment after four to seven days. Children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 years, and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe illnesses that require medical treatment or hospitalization.

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