ATLANTA — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state health officials, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella serotype Typhimurium that has been discovered in 42 states and sickening approximately 400 people and hospitalizing about 20 percent of the people. While the source of the outbreak is still unknown, CDC and its investigation team say it is likely linked to food.

"Outbreaks from a widely distributed contaminated product may cause illnesses across the United States, and the identity of the contaminated product is often not readily apparent," according to a statement from the C.D.C.

C.D.C. officials say the same type of Salmonella bacteria has been lab-confirmed in 388 cases nationwide. Of lab-confirmed cases, Salmonella Typhimurium is the most common and is often found in meat and eggs.

According to an Associated Press report, health officials in California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and Ohio have confirmed cases. Ohio and California reported the most, with 51 cases each. All of the illnesses began between Sept. 3 and Dec. 29, but most of the people grew sick after Oct. 1.

Not knowing what food is responsible means the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Department of Agriculture cannot help track the original source, said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat who chairs the Agriculture-F.D.A. appropriations subcommittee. "Any delays in these critical investigations can sicken more people," Ms. DeLauro said

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