(June 2, 2:53 p.m.) The New Mexico Department of Health has linked an outbreak of Salmonella St. Paul to fresh tomatoes.

Department communications director Deborah Busemeyer said that as of June 2 there were 33 reported illnesses and at least eight hospitalizations in New Mexico, and six other states had reported at least one illness. There were no known deaths in New Mexico, she said.

The first illnesses in New Mexico were reported May 6 and have been linked to tomatoes purchased at Wal-Mart, Basha’s Supermarkets and Lowe’s Markets, Busemeyer said.

She said the variety and source of the tomatoes had not yet been determined.

“We bought a ton of tomatoes, and we’re in the process of testing them,” she said. “We’re testing all different kinds. We tried to take a wide sample.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services said June 2 that 21 cases of Salmonella St. Paul had been reported in the Lone Star State as of May 30, but the state agency had not linked those illnesses to a specific source. She said there had been several hospitalizations but not reported deaths.

Busemeyer said Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Illinois and Idaho each had at least one reported illness. She said the New Mexico Environment Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration also are working on the traceback investigation.

An FDA spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the CDC said that agency planned to post information about the outbreak on its Web site June 2.

Tomatoes have had issues with salmonella before. State and county officials linked tomatoes to a salmonella outbreak that sickened 19 customers and three employees in October 2007 at a Quiznos sandwich shop in Rochester, Minn. In 2006, tomatoes were linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Newport that affected 109 people in 19 states.

Last year growers in Florida persuaded state legislators to institute a mandatory safety program to help prevent such outbreaks.