Federal officials are reporting an 82 percent increase in the number of confirmed Salmonella infections in a nationwide outbreak traced to raw turkey. The CDC also confirmed the first outbreak-related death today.
Since the initial outbreak report on July 19 — when 90 people from 26 states had been confirmed with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading — another 74 people have been added to the case count. As of Nov. 5, 164 people from 35 states are laboratory confirmed as outbreak patients, according to Thursday’s afternoon’s update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No recalls have been initiated in relation to the outbreak.
The outbreak’s hospitalization rate is higher than usually seen with salmonellosis. Of the 135 patients with the information currently available, 47 percent have been admitted to hospitals. One of the patients in California died.
“In interviews, ill people report eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different locations. Three ill people lived in households where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets,” said investigators from the CDC.
“The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading has been identified in samples from raw turkey pet food in Minnesota, from live turkeys from several states, and from raw turkey products collected from ill people’s homes. The raw turkey samples collected from ill people’s homes are still being investigated to determine the source of the turkey. A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified.”
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has food safety jurisdiction over poultry and its investigators are working with the CDC and turkey producers, but the FSIS is deferring to the CDC when it comes to outbreak updates.
Federal food safety officials say the fact that the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading is present in live turkeys and many types of raw turkey products show the bacteria could be widespread in the turkey industry.
“CDC and USDA-FSIS have shared this information with representatives from the turkey industry and asked about steps that they may be taking to reduce Salmonella contamination,” according to the CDC update.