At least 92 people in 29 states have been infected with a strain of multidrug-resistant salmonella after coming into contact with a variety of raw chicken products, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. Twenty-one of the sick patients have been hospitalized, though no deaths have been reported.
The source of the raw chicken is unclear from lab tests, and no single common supplier has been identified. The strain has shown up in samples from a variety of raw chicken products including pet food, chicken pieces, ground pieces and whole chickens. The bacteria have also been found in live chickens. The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service is monitoring the outbreak, and the CDC's investigation is ongoing.
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This particular salmonella strain is resistant to multiple antibiotics, the most common form of treatment.
People sick with this strain have experienced stomach pain, cramps, diarrhea and fever 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria.
Most people infected with salmonella, the most frequent cause of foodborne illness, get better in four to seven days without treatment. Symptoms can be worse for people with underlying medical conditions, children under 5 and people older than 65, as they typically have weaker immune systems.
The CDC says the outbreak started in January, and more people have tested positive for this strain through September.
The patients live in California, Washington, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Maine.
Keep in mind that poultry can spread germs any time you handle it, the CDC notes, so always wash your hands when handling raw meat or poultry. Don't wash chicken before you cook it, as doing so can spread germs to other surfaces. Wipe down surfaces that have come into contact with raw meat, and use a separate cutting board. Cook chicken to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful bacteria.
Some people may like to feed their cats and dogs raw chicken, but the CDC recommends against it. Germs in the food can make your pets sick, and you can get sick handling it.
If you keep chickens as pets, getting too friendly with your fowl is also not recommended. Costumes may look cute on cats and dogs, but the CDC suggests that you avoid dressing your chickens up or cuddling with them to keep from being exposed to these bacteria.