Federal health officials indicate a multi-state outbreak of salmonella food poisoning linked to ground beef has killed at least one person and sickened nearly a dozen others.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Investigation Notice on November 1, 2019, indicating illnesses involving a strain of Salmonella Dublin bacteria appear to be linked to contaminated ground beef products.
To date, at least 10 illnesses have been reported in six different states between August 8, 2019 through September 22, 2019, including California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Through whole genome sequencing (WGS), officials have determined the bacteria isolated from those sickened are closely related, and likely share a common source of infection.
Epidemiologic and trace back investigations indicate ground beef is likely the common source of infection, as 75% of those interviewed reporting eating some type of ground beef product at home and all sickened individuals reported purchasing and handling ground beef prior to their illness onset.
Investigators report laboratory testing has identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Dublin in a leftover package of ground beef from one of the sickened individual’s homes.
No single, common supplier of ground beef has been identified as the source of the outbreak, but officials are continuing to monitor the outbreak and are trying to trace the contamination back to the original source, so that impacted products can be removed from consumers homes.
Officials warn that although the outbreak has been deemed relatively small, the strain of Salmonella Dublin involved is more dangerous than usual and may result in severe adverse health consequences for those infected. To date, the rate of hospitalization is at 89%, compared to typical salmonella outbreaks, which usually only have a 20% hospitalization rate.
Salmonella infections can cause mild to severe health consequences depending upon the individual. The bacteria may cause a healthy person to experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain whereas the young or elderly with weakened immune systems may face more severe consequences, including fatal infections.
Among pregnant women, salmonella poisoning may cause still births and miscarriages. Occasionally, salmonella infections may travel through the bloodstream and produce illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis, which can cause severe to potentially life threatening health consequences.
Officials warn individuals handling any ground beef products to be cautious and to always keep raw meats separate from foods that won’t be cooked thoroughly, and always clean surfaces, dishes, and cooking utensils that come in contact with raw meat products to avoid cross contamination and the spread of infection.