The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella infections that has sickened at least 90 people in 26 states, including Oregon. Forty people have been hospitalized.
The outbreak has been traced to turkey products from a variety of sources that are contaminated with a strain of the bacteria called Salmonella Reading. Investigators have found the bacteria in raw turkey, live turkeys and raw turkey pet food. The source of the contamination has not been identified but investigators say the outbreak strain may be widespread in the turkey industry.
Health officials say the outbreak is a warning to consumers that raw turkey products often have germs that can make you sick and should be handled carefully and cooked thoroughly to avoid food poisoning. CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.
CDC advises consumers to follow these steps to help prevent Salmonella infection from raw turkey:
- Wash your hands. Salmonella infections can spread from one person to another. Wash hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals, and after using the restroom or changing diapers.
- Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check, and place it in the thickest part of the food.
- Don’t spread germs from raw turkey around food preparation areas. Washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended. Germs in raw poultry juices can spread to other areas and foods. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible.
- CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.
Signs and Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
- Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.
- The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
- In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
- In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
- Children younger than 5 years of age, adults older than 65 years of age, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.
- For more information, see the CDCSalmonella website.