The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a small outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that it hopes to keep small.
The agency says that one person has died so far, and at least eight others have been hospitalized after eating tainted ground beef. The affected consumers live in California, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Iowa. The death occurred in California.
The CDC said it has not yet been able to trace the outbreak to a single ground beef supplier, but it strongly suspects that is the case. It’s urging consumers to be cautious when preparing ground beef. While the Salmonella pathogen is highly toxic, it can be killed when exposed to high temperatures. Thoroughly cooking ground beef normally neutralizes the threat.
“CDC is not advising that consumers stop eating thoroughly cooked ground beef, or that retailers stop selling ground beef,” the health agency said.
In interviews with the CDC, the people who have gotten sick report eating different types and brands of ground beef purchased from a number of different locations. Lab tests have identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Dublin in repackaged leftover ground beef collected from an ill person’s home in California.
Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning can vary in severity depending on the strain. Most patients report diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness normally lasts up to a week, and people often recover without seeking medical treatment.
Symptoms may be more severe in young children and people older than 65 because their immune systems may not be as strong as a healthy adult’s. The infection is dangerous because it can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then make its way to the body’s other organs.
Medical professionals say that consumers should always keep raw meat separate from foods that won’t be cooked, such as salad ingredients. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after touching raw meat and before touching other things in your kitchen.
It’s also important to thoroughly wash kitchen countertops, cutting boards, plates, and utensils with hot, soapy water or a bleach solution after they come in contact with raw meat or its juices to avoid contaminating other foods and kitchen items.