Federal health officials indicate they have tracked a drug-resistant salmonella outbreak, which has sickened nearly 100 people in 29 states, back to certain raw chicken products.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the multi-state salmonella outbreak on October 17, which began in January and has persisted over the past 10 months.
The Salmonella infections have been linked to raw chicken products, but regulators have not identified any one specific source, product, or common supplier.
To date, 92 people have become sick across 29 states, including California, Washington, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Maine. There have been no reported deaths, but at least 21 people have been hospitalized form food poisoning.
Many types of raw chicken products from a variety of sources have tested positive for contamination, including chicken pieces, ground pieces, whole chickens, live chickens, and dog food. The diverse nature of affected products indicates the outbreak is widespread across the chicken industry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is monitoring the outbreak. Laboratory testing indicates this strain of Salmonella is resistant to 13 types of antibiotics.
The CDC is not advising consumers to stop eating chicken, as long as it is properly cooked first. The agency is also not advising retailers to stop selling chicken products.
Health officials recommend consumers always handle raw chicken carefully and cook thoroughly. Avoid washing raw poultry before cooking because washing it can allow germs to spread to other foods and surfaces from splashing water.
Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently after handling chicken. Always cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful bacteria.
Consumers who keep live chickens should avoid getting too close or friendly with chickens, such as is done with cats or dogs. Avoid dressing them up or cuddling with chickens to avoid exposure to bacteria.
Salmonella illnesses typically begin 12 to 72 hours after swallowing the bacteria. Most people experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, but will recover within one week of becoming sick. In some cases it may last longer or pose a threat to patients who have weakened immune systems.
Patients should contact a doctor if a high fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit continues to linger, blood in the stool is noted, or frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquid from staying down occurs.