FRIDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Three California poultry
processing plants linked to a salmonella outbreak in raw chicken
that's sickened 278 people in 17 states can remain open, the U.S.
Agriculture Department says.
The three plants are owned by Foster Farms, which has made
"immediate substantive changes to their slaughter and processing to
allow for continued operations," according to the department, the
The company said it is cooperating with the investigation into
the outbreak and implemented new food safety controls after
learning about the illnesses. USDA inspectors will monitor the
changes at the plants and sample the company's meat for the next
three months, officials said.
The outbreak began in March and some new illnesses began as
recently as two weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention said. Most of the illnesses have been in California.
Because of antibiotic resistance, 42 percent of patients
stricken with salmonella have required hospitalization, the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.
That 42 percent figure is an unusually high rate for Salmonella
Heidelberg, said CDC spokesman John O'Connor.
"The typical hospitalization rate for salmonellosis is around 20 percent," he noted.
"Antibiotic resistance, as seen in this outbreak, may be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals," O'Connor added.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem, said Dr. Marc
Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical
Center in New York City. "It's not an accident that this particular
strain is resistant," he said. "I suspect it's resistant because of
the overuse of antibiotics among farm animals."
Chicken live in squalor, Siegel said. "Ninety-five percent of
chickens are grown in such horrific conditions that they're
standing in poop and they end up infected with salmonella. If one
chicken gets it, they all get it," he said.
All the chickens are treated with antibiotics, which causes the
resistant bacteria to emerge, Siegel said. This use of antibiotics
should be banned, he added.
In different tests, this strain of salmonella linked to Foster
Farms has shown resistance to combinations of the following
antibiotics: ampicillin, chloramphenicol, gentamicin, kanamycin,
streptomycin, sulfisoxazole and tetracycline, O'Connor said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection
Service issued a public alert on Monday after receiving reports
that hundreds of people had been sickened, with most illnesses
reported in California.
Although the odds of getting salmonella from chicken are rare,
Siegel advises cooking chicken thoroughly and preventing
cross-contamination by keeping raw chicken away from other foods,
cutting boards and utensils used for meal preparation. Always wash
your hands after handling raw chicken, he added.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, cramps and
fever. Some people get chills, nausea and vomiting, lasting up to
seven days, according to the USDA. Although the condition usually
gets better by itself, it can be serious, even fatal, for people
with compromised immune systems, infants and the elderly.
For more information on salmonella, visit the
for Disease Control and Prevention.
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