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Deadly salmonella outbreak from raw turkey grows — just in time for Thanksgiving

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.

As millions of Americans whet their collective appetite for Thanksgiving turkey, the CDC says investigators still don’t know where the deadly salmonella outbreak they began tracking three days before last Thanksgiving started.

At last update, in July, 90 people had been sickened by salmonella from raw turkey in 26 states, according to the Miami Herald. The outbreak strain of salmonella bacteria had been identified in raw turkey food products, raw turkey dog food and in live turkeys, according to the CDC’s news release.

But since July, 74 more people have been infected in nine more states, the CDC says, bringing the total number of infected over the course of the last year to 164 in 35 states. Of the 164 who have reportedly been made sick, 63 have been sick enough to check into the hospital.

“We are still seeing new illnesses being reported on a weekly basis,” Colin Basler, an epidemiologist with the CDC, said, according to The Associated Press.

One person in California, according to the CDC, has died. That death is the first attributed to the now yearlong outbreak of salmonella in raw turkey products.

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According to the CDC data, Texas, California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York have been the states hardest hit by the salmonella outbreak in raw turkey products. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Minnesota — with 17 cases — and Illinois — with 16 — have been the two hardest-hit states. California has seen 13, Texas has seen 12 and New York has reported 11 cases, according to the CDC.

The fact that investigators have been unable to pinpoint the outbreak’s starting point, and that the outbreak strain is now “present in live turkeys and in many types of raw turkey products,” leads the CDC to believe that “[salmonella] might be widespread in the turkey industry,” the release says.

The strain has also been found in ground turkey and turkey patties, WGN reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the CDC have been working with members of the turkey industry to reduce the harm of contamination events like this outbreak. The investigation is ongoing.

The symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

The CDC is warning consumers that if you are going to handle a turkey this Thanksgiving, wash your hands thoroughly after every time you touch it. But also, don’t wash the actual turkey, says the Kansas City Star.

The CDC also recommends thawing turkeys in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

TSA officials demonstrate what parts of Thanksgiving dinner can fly and how you should package them.

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