Salmonella is a bacterium commonly found in unpasteurized milk, raw meat such as poultry and ground meat, raw eggs, reptiles, amphibians and birds. This bacterium can result in an intestinal infection commonly known as Salmonellosis. Salmonellosis results in diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, chills, headaches, nausea and vomiting, usually starting 12 to 72 hours after exposure and lasting four to seven days. Most individuals recover without treatment, however, some people may need to be hospitalized due to dehydration or the spread of the infection to other parts of the body. Young children, older adults and individuals who are immune compromised are at higher risk to have severe illness.
The strain of Salmonella in this outbreak is Salmonella Heidelberg. This strain is resistant to multiple antibiotics; therefore, it is important to avoid illness. To avoid getting sick from Salmonella, the following prevention tips from the CDC and FoodSafety.gov are advised:
• Cook poultry, ground beef and eggs thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to verify the internal temperature has reached the recommended safe temperature. Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurized) milk.
• If you are served undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant, don’t hesitate to send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
• Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
• Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly and the immunocompromised.
• Don’t work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant (feeding, change diaper) at the same time.
• Mother’s milk is the safest food for young infants. Breastfeeding prevents Salmonellosis and many other health problems.
• Avoid cross contamination of food. Wash hands before handling food between food products. Wash cutting boards, utensils, knives and counter tops after touching raw food.
• Keep food properly refrigerated.
If you become ill, you should get rest and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. If you can’t drink enough to prevent dehydration or become too ill, see your doctor.