Salmonella Outbreak in California October 2013
"A public health alert was issued for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California as some 278 people have fallen ill since strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were first detected in March. The illnesses have been predominantly in California, but the salmonella has reached people from 18 states."
The CDC reports that while no deaths have been reported to date, this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg has resulted in hospitalization for about 42% of affected patients. More than 3 out of 4 of those who contracted the illness from the contaminated chicken are from California.
Unfortunately, unlike other strains of these bacteria, the Heidelberg strain is largely resistant to a broad array of common antibiotics. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are commonly referred to as "super-bugs".
The symptoms of infection with Salmonella Heidelberg can be severe. Children, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised are at highest risk for complications. Symptoms are predominantly gastrointestinal in nature. Between 8 and 72 hours post infection, symptoms may include diarrhea, cramping, and fever. Nausea, vomiting, chills, and headaches may persist for a week or longer.
Foster Farms, the company to whom the origin of the outbreak has been traced, has provided an FAQ resource for consumers concerned about this issue. They emphasize that none of their products have been officially recalled at this point.
In general, to prevent Salmonella infection, be certain to thoroughly cook all meat. Relying on visual cues is often ineffective. Consider using a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is cooked to the correct temperature. In addition, clean all surfaces and utensils that have come into contact with raw meat. This includes knives, counter tops, tables, sinks, and cutting boards.
‘If you believe you may have been exposed to this infection by consuming any of the contaminated chicken, it is important to get a quick and accurate diagnosis so you can begin a course of treatment right away. In many cases, an urgent care facility is an excellent alternative to expensive emergency room visits or waiting for days to be seen at your primary care physician's office’, says John Foster, MD at Sunset Walk-In Healthcare and Occupational Medicine Clinic, in West Hollywood.
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