LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada health officials said Wednesday they don't know the exact source of an increase in the number people reporting illnesses from a salmonella bacteria commonly associated with eggs and poultry.
"The one common thing is they all had egg consumption," Southern Nevada Health District spokeswoman Stephanie Bethel said after reporting 30 cases of salmonella enteritidis in the Las Vegas area since January. Bethel said that was about four times more cases than usual.
In Reno, health officials tallied 16 cases of salmonella enteritidis since June, or more than six times the number normally reported.
"We've been monitoring this because the number of cases is high for us," said Phil Ulibarri, spokesman for the Washoe County Health District. "But none are associated with the (nationwide) outbreak, as far as we know."
No deaths were reported by either Nevada district. Both were cooperating with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service to identify the contamination's source.
"We are working with the federal agencies to find out what the source is," Bethel said, "and we're advising our community to handle eggs carefully and cook them properly."
The CDC has blamed about 200 cases of the strain of salmonella on eggs from Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa. The eggs were distributed around the country and packaged under the names Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp.
Officials say the very young, the elderly and people with weak immune systems were most at risk from the illness. It causes diarrhea, fever and cramps, and typically lasts four to seven days.
Health officials say eggs should be kept refrigerated, and that cracked or dirty eggs should be discarded. Eggs should be fully cooked, and people should wash hands and utensils with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.