The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert Thursday afternoon about a seven-month salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey that has sickened 90 people, 40 of whom have been hospitalized, in 26 states.
Variance in turkey products eaten by the sick people — “the outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products, and live turkeys,” the CDC says — has inhibited narrowing the source of either the finished products or currently live turkeys.
But, the alert assures, “CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.”
Illnesses started turning up Nov. 20, 2017.
While the CDC termed the salmonella in this outbreak “multidrug-resistant,” only 33 percent of the isolates from sick folks showed genes that would fight off the effects of antibiotics ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, gentamicin, and kanamycin.
“This resistance likely will not affect the choice of antibiotic used to treat most people since these antibiotics are not normally used to treat salmonella infections,” the agency said.
Salmonella hits around 1.2 million Americans each year with diarrhea, stomachaches and fever within three days of eating contaminated food. Despite the 51 percent hospitalization rate in this outbreak so far, salmonella rarely sends people to the hospital, only 1.9 percent. The fatality rate is miniscule, 0.04 percent.
Tips for avoiding salmonella while working with raw turkey or chicken:
▪ Wash your hands before and after working with food.
▪ Thoroughly wash all surfaces with warm soapy water after using them to prepare the raw turkey or chicken.
▪ Do NOT wash the raw turkey or chicken before cooking.
▪ Get a food thermometer. Use it on the thickest part of your turkey or chicken to make sure you cook it to a temperature of 165 degrees.