Dozens Sickened by Tainted Turkey

Salmonella causes diarrhea and abdominal cramps

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Tainted ground turkey, contaminated with an antibiotic resistant and difficult to treat type of salmonella, has sickened at least 76 and killed one person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

The outbreak began in March when the CDC received reports of salmonella Heidelberg. At least 22 have been hospitalized as a result of eating infected ground turkey.

"Thoroughly cook ground turkey."

Individuals have been sickened in 26 states. Higher proportions of cases have been reported in Texas, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

More than the number currently reported could actually be infected, however, because there is a delay of two to three weeks between when a person becomes ill and when it is reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating the source of the outbreak. Cultures of four ground turkey samples already have been shown to be infected with the salmonella strain, but the illness has not yet been linked to a particular brand or type of ground turkey.

Those infected with salmonella bacteria usually develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps about 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most recover without treatment. But because the strain is more antibiotic resistant, a higher number of patients could need to be hospitalized.

Salmonella spreads through the intestines into the blood stream, then on to other body parts. It can lead to death if not treated quickly with antibiotics. Older adults, young children and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to be have a severe illness as a result of infection.

While the USDA has not issued a recall, the organization has announced a public health alert, warning about consumption of ground turkey. USDA officials warn to closely follow cooking, handling and preparation instructions for fresh or frozen ground turkey to minimize the chance of becoming ill. To ensure ground turkey is safe to eat, it must be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

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Review Date: 
August 2, 2011
Last Updated:
August 2, 2011