CDC Reports Salmonella Outbreak in 17 States Linked to Italian-Style Meats

by Jennifer Shea

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating two salmonella outbreaks that have caused 36 people across 17 states to fall ill. At least 12 people have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreaks.

The outbreaks are both linked to Italian-style meats such as salami and prosciutto. CDC investigators are trying to track down specific contaminated products. They hope to ascertain if both outbreaks come from the same food source, the CDC said in a news release.

So far, no deaths have resulted from the salmonella outbreaks. The CDC suspects that the true number of people sickened is even higher than the number reported. Some people likely recovered without seeking medical attention and so were not tested for salmonella.

According to the CDC’s investigation, the victims of both salmonella outbreaks reported buying several different brands of meat. One of the outbreaks appeared to show antibiotic resistance and would thus be difficult to treat with standard antibiotics.

Salmonella Particularly Dangerous to Elderly, Children

The CDC is warning people to heat Italian-style meats to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher before eating. That’s especially the case for those at higher risk of severe salmonella illness. People 65 years of age or older, or those taking immunosuppressant medications, are at heightened risk of salmonella sickness. So are children under 5 years old.

Most people exposed to salmonella will develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps anywhere from six hours to six days after eating the contaminated meat. Those symptoms usually persist for four to seven days.

Some people need to be hospitalized for salmonella infections. In some cases, the infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and from there to other parts of the body. This is more likely to happen to young children, older adults or people with weakened immune systems.

Warning Signs for Everyone

Seek medical assistance right away if you notice any of the following symptoms: Diarrhea for more than three days. A fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Bloody diarrhea. Vomiting to the point that you cannot keep liquids down. Signs of dehydration, including dry mouth and throat; feeling dizzy upon standing up; or not urinating much.

According to CDC estimates, salmonella causes 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths across the country every year. Most of those cases result from food, although the CDC did warn poultry farmers this spring not to “kiss or snuggle backyard poultry,” or consume food or beverages around them, because that can lead people to ingest salmonella germs and fall ill.