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Salmonella outbreak investigated nationwide, including Pennsylvania

What is salmonella and how do you keep from getting it?

Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC. The bacteria is typically transmitted through contaminated food, but some simple preventative measures can keep you from getting sick.
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Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC. The bacteria is typically transmitted through contaminated food, but some simple preventative measures can keep you from getting sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health regulatory officials announced Thursday that they are investigating a “multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistent salmonella linked to raw turkey products.”

According to the CDC, as of July 11, 90 people have been been infected with salmonella with reports coming from 26 states, including Pennsylvania. Forty of those people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

The CDC didn’t name a specific product as the source of the outbreak, but said that “raw turkey products from a variety of sources are contaminated with salmonella and are making people sick.” Individuals interviewed have reported eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from multiple locations, while two individuals reported living in a household where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets.

The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products and live turkeys, the CDC said. The presence of the strain indicates it might be widespread in the turkey industry.

“CDC and USDA-FSIS have shared this information with representatives from the turkey industry and asked about steps that they may be taking to reduce salmonella contamination,” the CDC said.

Centre County is no stranger to salmonella, as the CDT reported July 10 on a number of area residents who sought medical attention for gastrointestinal issues following a going-away picnic for a Grace Prep High School teacher. Mount Nittany Medical Center confirmed at the time that 50 people had been seen for gastrointestinal-type symptoms.

Grace Prep founder Bob Gresh confirmed on the school’s Facebook page that the sickness was confirmed to be salmonella. The Pennsylvania Department of Health said they tested samples of food at the picnic, but would not have the results of those tests for a few weeks.

For this CDC-related outbreak, illnesses started on Nov. 20, 2017 and continued through June 29, the CDC said, in individuals aged 1 to 91. States that reported included Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The CDC advised consumers to always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly, adding that “this outbreak is a reminder that raw turkey products have germs that spread around food preparation areas.”

The CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.

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