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Nation in brief: Salmonella prompts puffed-cereal recall

At least 23 people in more than a dozen states have been sickened by the same strain of salmonella found in two breakfast cereals recalled by Malt-O-Meal, the federal Food and Drug Administration said Saturday.

Malt-O-Meal voluntarily recalled its unsweetened Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat cereals April 5 after finding salmonella contamination during routine testing. The affected bags were produced in the past 12 months in Northfield, Minn.

Three people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. It can be life-threatening for people with poor health or weakened immune systems, including young children and the elderly.

The FDA said the recalled products were distributed nationally under the Malt-O-Meal brand name, as well as private labels. The cereal bags have “best if used by” dates from April 8, 2008, through March 18, 2009.

The CDC said that as of Friday it had received reports of 21 people ill with the same salmonella strain in 13 states. Washington and Idaho were not among them.


Man convicted of hiding iguanas

A jury acquitted a man of smuggling endangered iguanas in his hollowed-out prosthetic leg but convicted him of concealing and possessing the endangered species.

The jury rejected charges Thursday that Jereme James stole Fiji Island banded iguanas while visiting the South Pacific in September 2002. The neon-green-striped iguana is an endangered species, prosecutors said. However, James faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison when sentenced July 14.

During an undercover probe, James told investigators he had sold three iguanas for $32,000, prosecutors said. Four iguanas were seized when a search warrant was served at his house in April.


Families sue utility over ‘07 wildfires

One hundred twenty-six families have sued San Diego Gas & Electric Co. over October’s devastating wildfires in Southern California.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in San Diego Superior Court, says the utility was negligent in allowing its power lines to spark fires that burned 200,000 acres. The fires killed two people and destroyed more than 1,200 homes.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, but a plaintiff’s attorney says the families’ losses could reach $50 million.

The company serves 3.4 million customers in San Diego and southern Orange counties.

From wire reports