Federal officials are investigating an outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg in 26 states that has sickened at least 76 people and killed one person since March. The illnesses may be linked to the use and consumption of ground turkey meat.
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a public health alert for frozen and fresh ground turkey products, no meat has yet been recalled. According to today’s New York Times report, federal officials have indicated that the evidence thus far points to a single ground turkey factory as the likely source.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been collaborating with state public health officials and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Investigators are using DNA “fingerprints” of salmonella bacteria to link cases to the outbreak using data collected from PulseNet, the network of state and local public health laboratories and federal laboratories that survey foodborne infections.
This particular outbreak strain is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics. Kathleen Billingsley, chief deputy director of the California Public Health Department, where the one fatality was reported, reminded people to guard against salmonella infection. “CDPH urges consumers to thoroughly cook poultry to 165 degrees, wash all surfaces immediately after contact with raw meat or poultry and to refrigerate raw and cooked meat within two hours of purchasing or cooking,” she said in a statement.