Federal health officials have announced that a multi-state salmonella Typhimurium outbreak finally appears to be over, indicating that the food poisoning linked to various chicken salad products sickened hundreds of people nationwide, and may have caused at least one death.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an update about the Salmonella chicken salad outbreak on April 6, indicating that 265 infections were reported in at least 8 states, resulting in the hospitalization of 94 people.
The outbreak was first identified on February 9, after the Iowa Department of Public Health reported several cases of individuals hospitalized due to Salmonella Typhimurium infections.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) in conjunction with the CDC opened an investigation and discovered 55 Salmonella illnesses reported from Iowa, four reports from Illinois, two from Minnesota, three in Nebraska, and one reported illness in Texas.
The FSIS and CDC began performing trace-back investigations and using the PulseNet system to scan related illnesses reported across the U.S. Preliminary results indicated at least 65 people had been diagnosed with similar strains of Salmonella Typhimurium infections, in which 78 percent of those interviewed reported eating chicken salad products from a Fareway grocery store several days prior to the sickness onset.
The traceback investigation prompted the FSIS to conduct a recall of Triple T Specialty Meats ready-to-eat chicken salad products that were distributed to Fareway grocery stores between January 2 and February 7.
To date, the one fatality and 240 illnesses were reported in Iowa, 10 from Illinois, one from Indiana, four from Minnesota, one from Mississippi, five from Nebraska, three from South Dakota, and one in Wisconsin.
Although the illness reports have ceased, the CDC is asking consumers to discard any remaining chicken salad products that may have been involved in the recall, and to wash and sanitize countertops, utensils, refrigerators and any surface the product may have come in contact with to prevent cross contamination.
Salmonella attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing mild to severe symptoms. For most healthy adults, problems associated with food poisoning from salmonella typically resolve after a few days or weeks. However, young children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of suffering severe food poisoning after ingesting the bacteria. If not properly treated, some cases of salmonella food poisoning can lead to hospitalization, dehydration or death.
Every year, Salmonella is estimated to cause about 1.2 million illnesses in the United States, the vast majority of which go unreported. Illnesses usually last four to seven days causing diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping.