By Edward Mims
In September, an article in this column discussed the illness caused by Salmonellosis. In October, the CDC published a notice warning about multi-drug resistant Salmonella. This notice stated that public health officials were investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Infantis originating from raw chicken. Researchers used whole genome sequencing (WGS) to demonstrate relatedness among the Salmonella isolated from ill people. As of October 15th, 29 states have reported the outbreak infection.
Investigation of the outbreak revealed that 48 of 54 people interviewed reported preparing chicken that had been purchased raw. The illness was linked to many different brands of chicken. The strain has also been identified from raw chicken pet food. WGS, a rapid method for determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism, was used to predict that the resistance of the outbreak strain would be to most or all of the following antibiotics: ampicillin, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, fosfomycin, gentamicin, hygromycin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. This indicates that the strain will be very difficult to treat with the most commonly recommended antibiotics.
Be aware that symptoms typically occur 6-48 hours after ingestion. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps which can last for 4-7 days. Groups that are likely to have a more serious illness, requiring hospitalization, are young children, older adults, and those with a weak immune system.
The CDC provides steps to follow that help prevent transmission of an illness from foodborne Salmonella. These include washing hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds, washing any cooking surfaces, and cleaning off any utensils that have come into contact with raw food in hot soapy water after preparing each food item. Food should be cooked at an appropriate temperature and then stored in a chilled environment.
For more details, see https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonella-food/index.html.