WASHINGTON — Ninety people have been sickened in an ongoing spate of drug-resistant Salmonella infections linked to raw turkey products, health officials say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday afternoon that it was working to pinpoint the origin of a foodborne outbreak which has so far sickened people across 26 states and led to at least 40 hospitalizations.
Three of those cases are in Virginia.
In an online update, the public health institute said it had yet to flag down a single, common supplier of raw turkey product as responsible for the widening outbreak, and sickened people reported eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from a number of different locations.
Lab results confirmed the presence of the responsible Salmonella Reading strain in several raw turkey products, including pet food and live turkeys — that suggests the bacteria might be widespread in the turkey industry.
The CDC said public health officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were collaborating with representatives from the turkey industry to reduce instances of Salmonella contamination.
Despite all this, the CDC said it was not recommending people avoid turkey products altogether and instead is advising consumers and retailers to properly cook turkey before consumption.
Public health officials said consumers should take the following steps to safely consume turkey products:
- Thoroughly wash your hands before and after preparing food, coming into contact with animals, and after using the restroom or changing diapers. Salmonella infections can spread from one person to another.
- Properly cook turkey to kill harmful germs. The CDC recommended that turkey products, including burgers, casseroles, and sausages, be cooked or reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees — including leftovers.
- Wash cooking spaces to keep germs from spreading. Hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils should all be cleaned with warm, soapy water after coming into contact with raw turkey. Public health officials also generally advise against washing raw poultry before cooking, since juices can spread sickening bacteria to other parts of your kitchen.
- Keep pets off raw diets, for the well-being of both your pet and yourself. The CDC reports two people impacted by the current outbreak became ill after feeding their pets raw turkey products.