Salmonella is the most common bacterial cause of foodborne outbreaks in the United States; approximately half of Salmonella outbreaks occur in restaurant settings. In February 2008, investigation of a cluster of Salmonella Enteritidis cases with indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns revealed that five cases had eaten at the same restaurant. Cases were identified through routine surveillance activities and by contacting meal companions of culture-confirmed cases. Well meal companions and well patrons contacted via check stubs served as controls. Illness histories and stool samples were collected from all restaurant employees. Sandwiches were the only menu item or ingredient significantly associated with illness (15 of 15 cases versus 17 of 37 controls; odds ratio, undefined; P < 0.001). None of the six restaurant employees reported experiencing recent gastrointestinal symptoms . The outbreak PFGE subtype of Salmonella Enteritidis was identified in two food workers. One of the positive employees began working at the restaurant shortly before the first exposure date reported by a case, and assisted in the preparation of sandwiches and other foods consumed by cases. The other positive employee rarely, if ever, handled food. The restaurant did not have a glove use policy. There was no evidence of ongoing transmission after exclusion of the positive food workers. This was a restaurant Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak associated with an asymptomatic infected food worker. Routine PFGE subtyping of Salmonella Enteritidis isolates, routine interviewing of cases, and an iterative approach to cluster investigations allowed for timely identification of the source of an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections.

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