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Is NC at Risk? Salmonella Outbreaks in Nine States, Including Virginia

By Blue Cross NC | June 22, 2015 | Health Conditions

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We’ve been lucky so far. Despite an outbreak affecting nine states across the country, North Carolina hasn’t seen any cases of salmonella outbreaks this year. But with incidents as close as Virginia, it’s as important as ever to be aware of the infection and how to prevent it.

What is Salmonella?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), salmonella is a bacteria that thrives in the gastrointestinal system of animals, from turtles to humans, and can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment.

The CDC estimates that approximately 1.2 million illnesses and approximately 450 deaths occur due to salmonella annually in the United States. And last fall, there was an outbreak in North Carolina due to re-cooked pulled pork at a church conference. Children under five, and adults over the age of 60 are at the highest risk for salmonella infection, but it can affect us all. It’s important to be aware of current outbreaks and how to prevent infection.

Image: CDC
Image: CDC

How to Prevent Salmonella Infection

  • 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.

Remember to stay safe and think smart.

[Top image: Shutterstock]