THURSDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Some 107 people in 31
states have now been infected with an outbreak strain of
Salmonella Heidelberg found in some ground turkey made by
Cargill Inc., the latest report from the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention shows.
That's up from last week's 76 cases in 26 states. Still, only
one death from the outbreak, which began in March, has been
reported. The outbreak caused the Minneapolis-based Cargill, the
third largest producer of turkey products in the United States, to
recall 36 million pounds of possibly contaminated ground turkey --
one of the largest meat recalls in history.
"The current outbreak of human Salmonella infection associated with turkey meat once again points out the risks associated with the production, handling and preparation of meat and poultry products," said Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean of the School of Public Health at the Downstate Medical Center in New York City.
"Salmonella species are frequently present in the intestinal tracts of poultry, including turkeys, and contamination during processing is an ever-present risk," he added.
The current number of ill individuals identified in each state
is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Arizona (3), California
(6), Colorado (2), Georgia (2), Illinois (13), Indiana (1), Iowa
(2), Kansas (1), Kentucky (2), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (3),
Maryland (1), Michigan (12), Minnesota (2), Mississippi (1),
Missouri (4), Nebraska (2), Nevada (1), New York (2), North
Carolina (3), Ohio (10), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania
(5), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (2), Texas (14), Utah (1) and
Wisconsin (4), according to the CDC.
The one death linked to the outbreak involved a case in
Sacramento County, Calif., that was reported by state officials,
Associated Press reported.
"The actual number of cases in the current outbreak may be much higher than reported, since Salmonella species can cause a spectrum of clinical illnesses that range from very mild to severe," Imperato said. "Milder cases resolve quickly and often do not come to medical attention."
"It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground turkey products and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry," Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill's turkey processing business," said in a company statement. "We go to great lengths to ensure the food we produce is safe and we fully understand that people expect to be able to consume safe food, each serving, every time."
Willardsen noted the company has suspended production of ground
turkey products at its Springdale, Ark.-based plant until the
source of the contamination has been found. All the recalled turkey
is from this plant. No contamination has been found in Cargill's
other three turkey processing plants, he added.
According to the agency, cultures taken from four samples of
ground turkey obtained from retail outlets between March 7 and June
27 were contaminated with the Heidelberg strain of Salmonella, and
that the ground turkey is the likely source of the outbreak.
Another expert, Philip Alcabes, an epidemiologist and professor
at Hunter College's School of Public Health in New York City,
commented that this outbreak -- like others -- is the result of how
America produces its food.
"Most of the food that most Americans eat nowadays comes from someplace far away. And much of it is produced industrially," Alcabes said.
"In this setting, bacterial contamination of foodstuffs is a fact of life. That means that some people get sick each year, and a few die. This is sad, of course, but not remarkable from a public health point of view. It's the price we pay as a society for our decision to create our food industrially," he said.
Even before the source of the outbreak had been determined, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection
Service had issued an alert July 29 that "reminds consumers of the
critical importance of following package cooking instructions for
frozen or fresh ground turkey products and general food safety
guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or
According to the USDA, the Salmonella bacterium can cause
salmonellosis, which "can be life-threatening, especially to those
with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons
with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy."
Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning typically arise within eight to
72 hours and can include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Chills, headache, nausea and vomiting can also occur and symptoms
can last up to a week.
The CDC adds that people should check their homes for recalled
ground turkey and not eat it. The strain of Salmonella in this
outbreak is resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics
and so may be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization
or possible treatment failure in infected people, the agency
How to Prevent Salmonella Illness From Meat
The CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and
Inspection Service offers up these tips to consumers:
For more information on salmonellosis, visit the
for Disease Control and Prevention.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.