May 24, 2024

Salmonella Reading Outbreak Linked to Raw Turkey Turns Deadly; Some May Sue

The CDC has updated its investigation of the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Reading infections that are linked to raw turkey products. One person in California has died. And 74 more ill persons were reported, bringing the total to 164 in 35 states. The last update on this outbreak was issued on July 19, 2018.

Salmonella Reading Raw Turkey Outbreak 11818

The case count by state is: Alaska (1), Arizona (1)< California (13), Colorado (6), Connecticut (3), Delaware (1), Florida (7), Georgia (2), Hawaii (1), Idaho (1), Iowa (3), Illinois (16), Indiana (3), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (3), Michigan (6), Minnesota (17), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (8), New York (12), North Carolina (7), North Dakota (2), Ohio (5), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (8), South Carolina (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (112), Virginia (8), and Wisconsin (6). Sixty-three people have been hospitalized because they are so sick. Since just 135 people have given investigators information, that means that 47% have been hospitalized, which is a very high number for a Salmonella outbreak.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from November 20, 2017 to October 20, 2018. The patient age range is from less than one to 91. One death was reported from California.

Investigators continue to interview patents about the foods they ate and other exposures before they got sick. Fifty-two percent said they prepared or ate turkey products that were purchased raw, including turkey pieces, whole turkey, and ground turkey. Unfortunately, many different brands from many different stores were purchased, which makes traceback more difficult.

Three of the 85 ill persons interviewed said they got sick after pets in their home ate raw ground turkey pet food. And three of the 85 worked in a facility that raises or processes turkeys, or lived with someone who did.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading was found in several different samples, including raw turkey pet food in Minnesota, in live turkeys in several states, and from raw turkey products collected from patient’s homes. Investigators also found the outbreak strain in samples from raw turkey products from 22 slaughter and 7 processing establishments. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Salmonella strain isolated from these samples is closely related genetically to the Salmonella strain from ill persons.

So, officials think that this strain of Salmonella Reading may be present in live turkeys and raw turkey products. They have not identified a single, common supplier. That means that, once again, consumers must protect themselves by carefully handling and preparing raw turkey products.

Watch out for cross-contamination. First of all, never thaw frozen turkey on the counter. It should be thawed in the fridge or in a sink of cold swear that is changed every 30 minutes.

Never rinse raw meat, including whole turkeys, before cooking because the bacteria can aerosolize under the water, spreading bacteria around your kitchen. Don’t let raw turkey juices drip onto other foods and surfaces. Wash your hands, utensils, and cooking equipment thoroughly after preparing raw turkey and other meats. And always cook meats to a safe final internal temperature, as tested with a thermometer. For turkey, that means 165°F. And always reheat leftovers to 165°F.

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