Salmonella Outbreak Linked to 1 Death

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Public health officials are investigating an outbreak of a deadly salmonella strain that has sickened 77 people in 26 states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.

The announcement was coupled with a warning about consuming ground turkey products, which are currently considered the likely cause of the outbreak.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 77 people have become infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg between March 1 and Aug. 1. One death has been reported, but federal health officials did not specify where.

Data released by the CDC indicate that Ohio and Minnesota have experienced the highest number of affected consumers with 10 people reporting illnesses in each state. Nine people reported illnesses in Texas. Other states reporting illnesses include Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa , Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

According to the CDC, cultures of four ground turkey samples purchased from four retail locations between March 7 and June 27 yielded Salmonella Heidelberg with the outbreak strain, but have yet to be directly linked to any of the illnesses.

As previously reported, most people infected with salmonella generally develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.

However, the CDC said that the strain involved in the outbreak carries an increased risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure since Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics.

The CDC said people who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated ground turkey should consult their health care providers.

The USDA stopped short of telling people to refrain from eating ground turkey products, but did reiterate “the critical importance of following package cooking instructions for frozen or fresh ground turkey products and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry.”

This includes cooking ground turkey products, ground turkey dishes and leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit internally (measured with a food thermometer); washing hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry; refrigerating raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase; and keeping raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked.

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