ATLANTA – Salmonella is the culprit in 90 illnesses linked to raw turkey products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Agriculture.
The illnesses have been reported in 26 states since November. But health officials have not identified a brand, product or supplier as the source of the outbreak. No cases have been reported in Connecticut.
Most people infected with the Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the germ. The illness can last several days. Severe cases may require hospitalization, and in rare cases can cause death. The CDC says this outbreak has hospitalized 40 people; no deaths have been reported.
The CDC says patients reported eating “different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different locations. Two ill people lived in a household where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets,” the CDC said.
In addition, samples of raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products and live turkeys have tested positive for the outbreak strain of salmonella, which could mean the outbreak is “widespread in the turkey industry,” the CDC said.
The CDC offers the following guidance for consumers:
Always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning.
CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.
Wash your hands. Salmonella infections can spread from one person to another. Wash hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals, and after using the restroom or changing diapers.
Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check, and place it in the thickest part of the food.
Don’t spread germs from raw turkey around food preparation areas. Washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended. Germs in raw poultry juices can spread to other areas and foods. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible.
CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.