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Salmonella outbreak linked to turkey sickens dozens more people

Dozens more people have gotten sick from eating turkey products contaminated with salmonella, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Since December, 63 more people have become ill, bringing the total to 279 people from 41 states and the District of Columbia.

Of those cases, 107 people got so sick they had to be hospitalized. One death has been reported in California in connection with the ongoing outbreak.

Investigators have identified the outbreak strain of salmonella in in various raw turkey products, including ground turkey and turkey patties. The germ in question has also been found in raw turkey pet food and live turkeys, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry.

A single, common supplier has not been identified. A number of turkey products have been recalled for possible contamination with salmonella, including Jennie-O Turkey, a subsidiary of food industry giant Hormel. Health officials warn this particular strain of salmonella may be present in many facilities and suppliers, meaning many brands of raw turkey could be affected.

Symptoms of illness from salmonella include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps and typically begin 12 to 72 hours after swallowing food contaminated with the bacteria.

Most people recover from the illness within a few days, but in some cases, it can become severe and complications can arise, especially in people with weakened immune systems.

Aside from the recalled items, officials are not advising consumers to avoid raw turkey products, but stress that it's important to cook them properly.

The CDC offers the following advice to protect you and your family from infection with salmonella:

  • Always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning.
  • Cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey to check temperature. For turkey burgers, insert thermometer in the side of the burger, into the thickest part of the patty in the center.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw turkey.
  • Do not feed your pet raw pet foods.