close up of salmonella

Salmonella Outbreaks Put U.S Citizens on High Alert

A recent rise in Salmonella outbreaks has infected more than 150 people nationwide. The infections started in early March and have continued to spread across 26 states.

close up of salmonellaSalmonella is a strain of bacteria best known for causing food borne illness. It is commonly transmitted to humans by ingesting foods that have come into contact with animal feces. When Salmonella bacteria infect the body, the condition is known as salmonellosis. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 42,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the U.S every year.

The recent outbreaks are being linked to chicks and ducklings. Recent investigations claim that 94% of victims have had contact with baby poultry just days before they became ill. Although numerous people have been hospitalized, no deaths have occurred. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that it is unclear where the outbreak originated.

Although most people recover without treatment, salmonellosis can pose a huge threat for at-risk individuals. The U.S Center for Disease control states that “Although anyone can get a Salmonella infection, older adults, infants, and people with impaired immune systems are at increased risk for serious illness.” Previous outbreaks of Salmonella have resulted in death, however common symptoms of an infection include headache, nausea, diarrhea, cramping in the abdominal area, and vomiting or fever. Symptoms usually occur 8 to 72 hours after the contaminated food was eaten. Illness can last anywhere from 4 to 7 days.

To prevent Salmonella illness, the USDA recommends frequent hand washing throughout the day, particularly before and after handling food. In addition, keeping counter tops and cooking utensils clean can prevent the spread of infection. The USDA also stresses the importance of cooking foods at the proper temperature; “Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F.” Poultry should be thoroughly cooked to a minimum of 165 °F. For a list of safe cooking temperatures, visit www.usda.gov.

Although Salmonella is most often linked to eggs and poultry, contamination can be found in many different foods. These foods can range from cheese, milk, nuts, and raw fruits to vegetables and meat. Other means of infection can arise from contact with animals. Reptiles in particular can pose a huge threat to pet owners if hands are not thoroughly washed after contact. It is recommended that any and all contact with animals should be followed by use of a disinfectant. By exercising these precautions, the risk of food borne illness is kept to a minimum.

Related Reading:
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/05/two-multistate-salmonella-outbreaks-linked-to-live-poultry-expand/#.UZPVv4zD8eF
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/VitalSigns/FoodSafety/
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets/Salmonella_Questions_&_Answers/
http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/salmonella/
http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/general/index.html