People should wash hands, follow other hygiene practices to prevent salmonella spread

08/05/2011 6:08 PM

08/05/2011 6:09 PM

Merced County Public Health officials are asking people to call its environmental division if they become aware of an establishment selling products that have been linked to the salmonella outbreak in California.

The salmonella outbreak has left one person death and others ill.

Earlier this week, the outbreak had been linked to possible consumption of ground turkey meat. On Thursday, Arkansas-based Cargill Meat Solutions, Inc., announced the voluntary recall of 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen ground turkey products, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Contaminated products are being recalled from grocery stores. Consumers are also being advised not to consume contaminated items that they might have at home.

Tammy Moss Chandler, director of the public health department in Merced, said officials so far haven’t identified any retailers within the county selling the contaminated products. But people are urged to call (209) 381-1100, if they become aware of any, she added.

No cases have been reported in Merced County. “We don’t have any cases, but it’s something that we track,” she said.

State public health officials said they are collaborating with officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and officials at public health departments across the state, as the multi-state investigation continues.

The bacteria in this outbreak -- Salmonella Heidelberg -- are resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics, according to the state’s public health department.

A total of 78 people have contracted the outbreak strain in 26 states, according to the CDC. The outbreak began in March.

The fatality in California was reported in Sacramento County, according to the state’s public health department. The other cases in the state were reported in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego.

Symptoms include include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after becoming infected.

Infants, older adults and those with a condition or medication that suppresses their immune system are most at risk, Moss Chandler said. Anybody experiencing the symptoms should call their health care provider, she said.

The top way to prevent salmonella from spreading is by washing your hands, and following other good hygiene practices, Moss Chandler said.

Another important reminder, she said, is for people to cook turkey -- and meat products in general -- properly.

For more information on the investigation and recalled items, visit http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg/080411/index.html

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