NC, 41 states experiencing salmonella outbreak

January 9, 2009 1:05:47 PM PST
North Carolina is one of 42 states experiencing a salmonella outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control says one in five victims has been taken to the hospital. Nearly 400 people have become ill and one may have died.

North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services said Friday one person in Robeson County became sick.

A woman in Minnesota had the infection when she died, but doctors do not know if salmonella was the cause.

The CDC said the same type of salmonella bacteria has been lab-confirmed in 388 cases nationwide.

The federal agency is leading the investigation but has not released the list of states or determined which foods may have caused people to become sick.

The following information is from the CDC:

What is salmonellosis? What are the symptoms?

Salmonellosis is an infection caused by bacteria called Salmonella. Most people infected with Salmonella develop fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Although illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most people recover without treatment, severe illness may occur that requires medical attention and hospitalization. In these patients, the Salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites. In this situation, the infection can cause death unless the patient is treated promptly with antibiotics. Infants, elderly people, and people with impaired immune systems are more likely than other people to become severely ill.

What can I do to prevent salmonellosis?

  • Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly. 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.
  • Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces.
  • Avoid direct or even indirect contact between reptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards, snakes) and infants or immunocompromised persons.
  • Don't work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.
  • Mother's milk is the safest food for young infants. Breastfeeding prevents salmonellosis and many other health problems.

Read more about the CDC's investigation.

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