A multidrug-resistant form of Salmonella that has sickened at least 92 people in more than two dozen states is linked to raw chicken products from a variety of sources, federal health officials say.
The outbreak of Salmonella infections has affected people in 29 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. Twenty-one of the 92 people sickened by the foodborne illness have been hospitalized.
According to the CDC, the outbreak strain of Salmonella was found in live chickens and in many types of raw chicken products, indicating it might be widespread in the chicken industry.
“A single, common supplier of raw chicken products or of live chickens has not been identified,” the CDC said.
Salmonella infections are usually treated with supportive care. More severe cases, particularly those that spread beyond the intestines, are treated with antibiotics.
The CDC advises physicians that the strain of Salmonella Infantis in this outbreak does not respond to the common first-line antibiotics ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone as well as several other antibiotics. The CDC says doctors treating illnesses associated with this Salmonella outbreak should read its full investigation notice and treatment recommendations.
People get sick from Salmonella 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe.
Despite the size of the outbreak, the CDC is not advising consumers to avoid eating chicken products as long as they are properly cooked, nor is it telling retailers to stop selling chicken products.
That means it is strictly up to the consumer and other food preparers to properly handle and cook chicken.
“Always handle raw chicken carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning,” the CDC says. “General ways you can prevent Salmonella infection include good handwashing and cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F.” Additionally, the agency advises consumers not to wash raw poultry before cooking, as doing so can spread the bacteria to other food and kitchen surfaces.