Salmonella is annually responsible for one million illnesses; 19,000 hospitalizations; and 380 deaths in the United States. There are 134 cases in 10 counties, and Washington State is currently facing a salmonella outbreak linked to pork products.
WHAT IS SALMONELLA?
Approximately 600-800 cases of salmonellosis are recorded among Washington residents each year. Salmonellosis (Salmonella) is a food poisoning caused by the Salmonella enterica bacterium. The easiest way to contract salmonella is by indulging in foods contaminated by the bacteria (like pork). Symptoms of Salmonella include fever, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. It develops 12 to 72 hours after infecting the body. Salmonella usually lasts between 4 and 7 days. People typically recover without medical assistance, however diarrhea and dehydration are severe symptoms of the contaminant that require medical attention.
HOW DOES FOOD CONTAMINATION HAPPEN?
Foods become contaminated with salmonella in a number of ways, “during food processing or food handling and by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler,” according to webmd.com. Beef, poultry, milk, and eggs are most commonly contaminated with salmonella. Salmonella can also be found in pet feces and is particularly prevalent in reptiles, baby chicks, ducklings, small rodents and hamsters.
WHAT HAPPENED TO PORK?
“The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has joined the state health department in its investigation into the outbreak,” according to Fox 13 news, “People eating pork are advised to cook it thoroughly.” The majority of illnesses, 84 cases to be exact, occurred in King County; 24 in Snohomish County; 12 in Pierce County and five in Yakima County.
The exposure of the bacteria for Washington community was caused by the consumption of whole roasted pigs served at private events and restaurants. Early testing confirms a connection to a slaughter facility in Graham, WA. “Samples were collected at Kapowsin Meats slaughter facility in Graham last week,” according to the state Department of Health, “testing confirms the outbreak strain was present.”
“The business, which is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, has cooperated with the investigation,” said foodsafetynews.com, “There may be other sources as well, and disease investigators are searching for the origin of the Salmonella bacteria in the outbreak.”
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