CBS NEWS – Dozens more people have been sick from eating salmonella-contaminated turkey products, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since December, an additional 63 people have fallen ill, bringing the total to 279 people in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
Of these cases, 107 people became so ill that they had to be hospitalized. A death has been reported in California as part of the ongoing epidemic.
Investigators identified the epidemic strain of salmonella in various raw turkey products, including ground turkey patties and turkey patties. The germ in question was also found in raw pet foods and in live turkeys, indicating that it could be prevalent in the turkey industry.
Only one common supplier has not been identified. A number of turkey products have been recalled for possible salmonella contamination, including Jennie-O Turkey, a subsidiary of food giant Hormel. Health officials have warned that this particular strain of salmonella may be present in many establishments and suppliers, which could have affected many brands of raw turkey.
Symptoms of salmonella disease include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps; they usually appear 12 to 72 hours after swallowing food contaminated with the bacteria.
Most people recover from the disease in a few days, but in some cases it can become serious and complications can occur, especially in people with weakened immune systems.
In addition to the recalled items, officials do not advise consumers to avoid raw turkey products, but emphasize that it is important to cook them properly.
The CDC offers the following tips to help protect you and your family from Salmonella infection:
- Always handle the raw turkey carefully and cook thoroughly to avoid food poisoning.
- Cook the turkey at an internal temperature of 165F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey to check the temperature. For turkey burgers, insert the thermometer into the side of the hamburger, in the thickest part of the pancake in the center.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw turkey.
- Do not feed your pet's raw food.