(CNN/Meredith) -- An outbreak of salmonella infections linked to chicken salad has sickened 65 people in five states, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. No deaths have been reported, but 28 people have been hospitalized.
Diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps are the symptoms of salmonella poisoning. Signs of illness usually occur within 12 to 72 hours and last for four to seven days in most cases.
An investigation by the CDC and the US Department of Agriculture linked the outbreak to chicken salad produced by Triple T Specialty Meats Inc. in January and February and sold at Fareway grocery stores in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Most of the sick people are in Iowa.
Triple T Specialty Meats has recalled all chicken salad sold at Fareway stores between January 4 and February 9.
If consumers purchased chicken salad from Fareway but don't remember the date, they should not eat it, the CDC says. Either throw it away or return it to the store.
Even if some of the chicken salad was eaten or served with no ill effects, the CDC advises throwing the rest away in a sealed bag so children or animals cannot eat it. Wash and sanitize countertops, refrigerators or freezers -- wherever the salad was stored.
Because foods from animals may be contaminated with salmonella, never eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat, the CDC says.
Most people recover from a salmonella infection without treatment. However, for some, the diarrhea may be so severe that hospitalization is necessary. In rare cases, an infection can lead to death unless a patient receives prompt treatment with antibiotics.
There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis. Because foods of animal origin may be contaminated with Salmonella, people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat. Raw eggs may be unrecognized in some foods, such as homemade Hollandaise sauce, Caesar and other homemade salad dressings, tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, and frostings. Poultry and meat, including hamburgers, should be well-cooked, not pink in the middle. Persons also should not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products. Produce should be thoroughly washed.
Cross-contamination of foods should be avoided. Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils should be washed thoroughly after touching uncooked foods. Hand should be washed before handling food, and between handling different food items.
People who have salmonellosis should not prepare food or pour water for others until their diarrhea has resolved. Many health departments require that restaurant workers with Salmonella infection have a stool test showing that they are no longer carrying the Salmonella bacterium before they return to work.
People should wash their hands after contact with animal feces. Because reptiles are particularly likely to have Salmonella, and it can contaminate their skin, everyone should immediately wash their hands after handling reptiles. Reptiles (including turtles) are not appropriate pets for small children and should not be in the same house as an infant. Salmonella carried in the intestines of chicks and ducklings contaminates their environment and the entire surface of the animal. Children can be exposed to the bacteria by simply holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds. Children should not handle baby chicks or other young birds. Everyone should immediately wash their hands after touching birds, including baby chicks and ducklings, or their environment.
Some prevention steps occur everyday without you thinking about it. Pasteurization of milk and treatment of municipal water supplies are highly effective prevention measures that have been in place for decades. In the 1970s, small pet turtles were a common source of salmonellosis in the United States, so in 1975, the sale of small turtles was banned in this country. However, in 2008, they were still being sold, and cases of Salmonella associated with pet turtles have been reported. Improvements in farm animal hygiene, in slaughter plant practices, and in vegetable and fruit harvesting and packing operations may help prevent salmonellosis caused by contaminated foods. Better education of food industry workers in basic food safety and restaurant inspection procedures may prevent cross-contamination and other food handling errors that can lead to outbreaks. Wider use of pasteurized egg in restaurants, hospitals, and nursing homes is an important prevention measure. In the future, irradiation or other treatments may greatly reduce contamination of raw meat.
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