A salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey has been tracked to 26 states where at least 90 people have become ill, 40 of them hospitalized, the CDC reported. The source of the months-long contagion remained a mystery.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said epidemiologic and laboratory evidence confirmed that raw turkey products from a variety of sources have been contaminated with Salmonella Reading. The agency said people who became ill have reported eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from numerous locations.
The CDC said in its investigation notice that two ill people lived in a household where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets. Investigators found the outbreak strain after identifying it in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products, and live turkeys.
The confirmed illnesses span the country, CNN reported: Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
According to information released by the CDC, Minnesota led all states with 13 cases, followed by Illinois with nine. Texas and New York both had eight cases.
The CDC said that it has not identified a single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys.
The first person connected with the outbreak was diagnosed in November and outbreak has continued through July with at least one person getting sick each month, according to CDC records.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said on Thursday it is also monitoring the Salmonella Reading outbreak. That agency said in its announcement that individuals should wash their hands thoroughly after handling any raw meat and poultry products and cook those products at a safe temperature, internally 165 degrees.
Along with hand washing and cooking turkey thoroughly, the CDC suggested that individuals should avoid spreading germs from raw turkey around food preparation areas by cleaning counters, cutting boards and utensils with warm, soapy water after handling raw turkey.
The agency said individuals should avoid feeding raw turkey or any raw diet to pets.
The CDC said most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria, which lasts from four to seven days. In some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized, the agency states.
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