The Salmonella outbreak in Washington state linked to pork products has grown to 134 cases as of August 12, 2015. The Washington Department of Health issued a press release stating that early testing shows a connection to a slaughter facility in Graham, Washington.
Samples were collected at Kapowsin Meats in Pierce County last week, and testing confirms that the outbreak strain was present. The business is cooperating with the investigation. The CDC is now involved.
Officials are also investigating restaurants, markets, slaughter facilities, and farms and ranches. Salmonella bacteria are found in animals used for food.
The case count by county is as follows: Clark (2), Cowlitz (1), Grays Harbor (1), King (84), Kitsap (1), Mason (2), Pierce (12), Snohomish (24), Thurston (2), and Yakima (5). Most of those sickened ate whole roasted pigs that were served at restaurants and private events.
Because of this outbreak, state health officials have issued guidance for cooking whole pigs. Cooking an entire carcass can be problematic, since making sure every section is cooked to a safe temperature can be difficult. A meat thermometer should be used to ensure that an internal temperature of at least 145°F is achieved in the thickest cut of the meat.
Cross-contamination may also be an issue. Contact between raw meat, raw meat juices, or mixing plates and/or utensils can all contaminate foods that are eaten uncooked. If those preparing the food did not wash their hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, they could contaminate other foods.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, chills, muscle pains, and headache. Most people recover in about a week, but some become so ill they must be hospitalized.
The long term complications of a Salmonella infection can include irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, reactive arthritis, eye problems, and heart disease.
If you ate pork, particularly from a whole roasted pig, and have experienced these symptoms please see your doctor. Salmonella is a reportable illness. If you are sick with a Salmonella infection, your doctor will tell the state about it. Clues provided from your case could help solve the outbreak.