Salmonella outbreak originated in California

You may have recently heard that a salmonella outbreak was sweeping the country, with 18 states accounting for 278 illnesses.1 As with any issue of this kind, the Food Safety and Inspection Service has been on the hunt to find where the problem originated. Based on the investigation thus far, Foster Farms in California has been linked to the spread of salmonella. However, FSIS has been unable to pinpoint the production period for contamination – although it is clear that chicken is the culprit. It is believed that most of the products have been distributed throughout California, Oregon and Washington.

Information about salmonella
There are a number of signs that you may be suffering from salmonella, including:2

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in stools
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting

These symptoms may last anywhere from four to seven days, and the infection could affect bowel movements for several months.

In addition to contaminated foods, as is the case with the chicken that has made so many sick as of late, there are other causes of salmonella. Some of the most likely ways for an individual to contract this type of food poisoning are:3

  • Coming into contact with animal feces that have been infected. If an individual does not wash their hands after coming in contact with the infected stool, they are at risk.
  • A number of small animals, including baby chicks and ducklings or rodents, may carry the infection. Anytime an animal is handled, the person should wash their hands.
  • Other common foods that have been known to be contaminated with salmonella include beef, milk, eggs and fruits or vegetables that have been mishandled.

Preventing an outbreak
Although there is no vaccination for salmonella, there are plenty of things that can be done to avoid infection. Most importantly, one should never consume raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat.4 In doing so, you are putting yourself at risk. Other tips for avoiding an outbreak may include:

  • Keep kitchen surfaces, hands and cooking utensils clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water after each is in contact with raw meat.
  • Someone who has contracted salmonella should not prepare food or beverages for others until their symptoms have completely subsided.
  • Avoid cross-contamination of foods by never having raw items in contact with produce and cooked foods – that means using separate knives and utensils as well as cutting boards, and washing hands regularly.
  • Not drinking unpasteurized milk, as this product can contain salmonella.
  • Cooking meats to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees so that any bacteria is killed.

Proper handling of raw foods can go a long way toward preventing the spread of infection. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Foster Farms has been linked to a salmonella outbreak. According to USA Today, the same strain of this food poisoning came from the chicken they distributed in July of 2012.5 That time, the outbreak lead to 134 illnesses across 13 states. However, Foster Farms released a statement indicating that they have added food safety processes in hopes of preventing future issues.

Health care providers can purchase medical supplies from Medex Supply. Available products include supplies that can help to prevent infection from spreading, as well as a number of other medical necessities.

1 CNN Health, "Federal health agencies probing salmonella outbreak" October 8, 2013
2 Mayo Clinic, "Salmonella infection: Symptoms" April 16, 2011
3 WebMD, "Food poisoning health center: Salmonellosis – topic overview" February 8, 2011
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Quick tips for preventing salmonella" September 27, 2010
5 USA Today, "Salmonella outbreak in 18 states linked to raw chicken" October 8, 2013

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