In the last year, a multidrug-resistant strain of Salmonella Reading has infected 164 people in 35 states. Sixty-three people have been hospitalized, one person is dead, and the outbreak is showing no signs of abating.
According to CDC, the outbreak strain has been isolated from live turkeys and from raw turkey products, including raw turkey pet food. No single source of the outbreak strain has been identified, and the outbreak strain appears to be widespread in the turkey industry.
Outbreak victims have reported consuming different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different locations.
Three of the victims were members of a household that fed its pets with a commercial raw turkey pet food.
In February 2018, the Minnesota Department of Health reported two cases of Salmonella Reading linked to Raws for Paws Ground Turkey Food for Pets. The company recalled the implicated product on February 8th.
No other products have been recalled in conjunction with this outbreak investigation.
States reported confirmed illness associated with this outbreak include:
Alaska (1), Arizona (1), California (13), Colorado (6), Connecticut (3), Delaware (1), Florida (7), Georgia (2), Hawaii (1), Idaho (1), Iowa (3), Illinois (16), Indiana (3), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (3), Michigan (6), Minnesota (17), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (8), New York (12), North Carolina (7), North Dakota (2), Ohio (5), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (8), South Carolina (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (11), Virginia (8), Wisconsin (6).
With Thanksgiving fast approaching in the US, consumers and food service operators should take extra care in handling all poultry products.
CDC advises consumers to follow these steps to help prevent Salmonella infection from raw turkey:
- 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.
- Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter.
- 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.