A Salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms chicken has sickened 389 people in 23 states and Puerto Rico, according to the lastest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increase of 28 cases over the last two weeks. And the number of those with severe illness is higher than typical Salmonella outbreaks.
Forty percent of those sickened have required hospitalization, that’s twice the average rate. In 14 percent of the cases, the bacterial infections have migrated from the GI tract into the blood causing septicemia, a life-threatening condition. Typically, about 5 percent of Salmonella infections develop that complication.
By state, the 28 new cases are as follows: Arizona (2), California (20), Idaho (1), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Nevada (1), Oregon (1), and Virginia (1). One case in Texas has been removed from the total because it does not meet the outbreak case definition.
California remains the state hardest hit by the outbreak. Seventy four percent of the cases, or 288 people, are in California. By state, the breakdown of total cases is as follows: Alaska (1), Arkansas (1), Arizona (16), California (288), Colorado (7), Connecticut (1), Delaware (1), Florida (4), Idaho (4), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Michigan (3), Missouri (5), North Carolina (1), Nevada (10), New Mexico (2), Oregon (10), Puerto Rico (1), Texas (10), Utah (2), Virginia (3), Washington (15), and Wisconsin (1).
Those sickened, who range in age from less than 1 year to 93 years old, experienced onset of illness bewteen March 1, 2013 to October 29, 2013. Fifty-two percent of those sickened are male.
Health investigators have determined through epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations that Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak. Foster Farms has not issued a recall for its raw chicken. However, some retailers removed it from their stores following an October 7 Public Health Alert issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) for chicken produced at three Foster Farms facilities in California.
Foster Farms survived the threat of closure of those plants by submitting to FSIS a list of immediate changes to their slaughter and processing procedures at those plants. It’s unclear how effective those changes have been. Today’s update shows some people experienced onset of illness 19 days after these changes were made. It generally takes between 6 and 72 hours after ingestion of Salmonella for symptoms to develop.
On October 12 and October 17, 2013, Costco’s El Camino Real store in South San Francisco, California recalled more than 23,000 rotisserie chicken products for possible Salmonella contamination. After some illnesses were reported among those who had eaten the cooked chicken from Foster Farms.
There are seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg that are part of this outbreak. All of them have shown resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics.