Story by Antwan Harris

Eyewitness News Reporter

WALKER COUNTY (WRCB)-- A nationwide outbreak of salmonella linked to eggs has been dramatically expanded.

Health officials now say the recall involves nearly 400 million eggs. That's equal to nearly 32 million dozen egg cartons.

Hundreds of people have been sickened in three states and possibly more.

The bacteria has been traced back to Wright County Egg in Iowa.

Local farmers have been alerted to the recall as well, and one tells Eyewitness News he's not surprised this outbreak is happening.

Mark Tant says many of the chickens in the larger facilities are subject to unsanitary conditions, which can spark an outbreak.

He says local farmers could use this as an opportunity to stress to the public that buying local can avoid these problems.

As the massive egg recall continues to grow, farmer Mark Tant says he will continue to monitor the situation.

The Wright Egg Company of Galt, Iowa expanded the recall to nearly 400 million eggs as salmonella was linked to the egg shells.

Tant says large facilities are more prone to this problem.

"They are more confined and prone to having much more bacteria. They are exposed to the problems you would think go along with a big operation," says Tant.

The outbreak has affected nearly a dozen states but not Tennessee or Georgia.

Wright County Egg does have a distribution center in Georgia. We even found one of the recalled brands, The Dutch Farms, at a local Walgreens.

Experts say salmonella can cause stomach illness for several days.

"People who are frail, elderly or very young can have very serious, even life-threatening injuries," says Dr. William Schaffner.

Tant uses a mobile unit to house chickens, which he says is more sanitary and makes them less susceptible to bacteria.

"This is much easier. We keep things clean on a weekly or daily basis, depending on how active they are," says Tant.

Tant says the Food and Drug Administration examines every farm and goes through the same checkpoints as any major company.

He says local farmers generally give chickens more space and organic feed, which also greatly reduces the possibility of bacteria spreading.

"There is a lot of tight spaces they are confined to. They may have two or three chickens in one space," says Tant.

There have been no reported cases in Tennessee or Georgia linked to this recall and the Hamilton County Health Department tells me the Center for Disease Control has not issued a warning.

Brand names that are believed to be linked to the outbreak if purchased between May and August of this year include: Lucerne, Albertsons, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps.