An ongoing outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to raw turkey has been blamed for one death and 164 confirmed illnesses in 35 states, federal health officials reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the death in a Nov. 8 announcement that also said 63 of the patients with confirmed salmonellosis linked to turkey have been hospitalized.
The CDC and state health officials continue to investigate the widespread salmonella outbreak but say it is not linked to a single source. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that raw turkey products from a variety of sources are contaminated with the strain Salmonella Reading and are making people sick.
The announcement comes as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, but it doesn’t mean your holiday will be turkeyless. No products have been recalled and the CDC doesn’t recommend that people avoid eating turkey.
Instead, the agency advises people to make sure turkey is stored safely and cooked through to a temperature of 165 degrees or higher and to safely handle raw turkey products to avoid cross-contamination.
Thoroughly washing hands, cooking utensils, and kitchen surfaces and avoiding splattering when preparing raw turkey will also help prevent the spread of bacteria.
“The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading has been identified in various raw turkey products, including ground turkey and turkey patties,” the CDC says. “The outbreak strain has also been found in raw turkey pet food and live turkeys, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry.”
Illnesses caused by turkey products in this outbreak started on Nov. 20 of last year, the CDC noted.
The symptoms of a salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and chills. Most cases of salmonella illness go away on their own, but more severe cases – especially in younger children, the elderly, and people in frail health, may require hospitalization. Salmonella illnesses usually last four to seven days.