A salmonella outbreak that has already sickened hundreds of people since March last year, is apparently far from over as the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Tuesday that 50 more people got sick from Salmonella poisoning that was traced to one of the country's largest chicken producers, Foster Farms.
The outbreak was caused by seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, which cause human illnesses including abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea within 72 hours after infection. Because these strains are resistant to a number of commonly prescribed antibiotics, affected individuals are at high risk of getting hospitalized.
In its latest update about the multistate salmonella outbreak, the CDC said that a total of 574 individuals in 27 states and in Puerto Rico have already been sickened by the outbreak tied to Foster Farms' chicken since March 1 last year. No death has yet been reported but 37 percent of those who fell ill were hospitalized and 13 percent had potentially fatal blood infections.
Most of those who were infected were from California with 441 of the sickened individuals from this state. There were also cases of salmonella poisoning that were linked with this particular outbreak in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee , Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.
Despite that the outbreak is already one of the longest in recent history, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) did not demand that Foster Farms recall its poultry products. FSIS officials said that their intensified sampling shows there are low levels of Salmonella at the three Foster Farms facilities that are the likely source of the outbreak and thought it possible that other sources might be responsible for the illness.
Foster Farms, on the other hand, refused to recall their products voluntarily. The company merely advised consumers to observe proper food handling and cooking practices particularly during warmer months when salmonella can contaminate food more easily.
"While a recent CDC update does include additional case patients, it is important to note that Salmonella incidence increases during the warmer months each year," the company said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Sixdog Investments made a voluntary recall of its organic eggs following results of a routine test that shows the products may have been contaminated with salmonella.