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Salmonella Outbreak Prompts CDC to Issue Public Health Alert

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — There have been countless stories about the people impacted by the government shutdown and now, there’s one more.

It involves a salmonella outbreak that so far has made nearly 300 people sick.

The concern is the number of people hospitalized by the salmonella outbreak. The USDA believes it came from chickens processed  by Foster Farms in California.

The number is higher than the Center for Disease Control would expect and many of the strains are resistant to antibiotics, so the CDC has issued a public health alert.

However, there’s a bigger problem. The CDC was forced to furlough close to 9,000 employees.

The concern about the salmonella outbreak is so serious, it’s bringing back ten to monitor this outbreak. 

ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser says, “When you lose 9,000 employees, our public health safety net is gone. They’re not able to monitor the distribution of flu vaccine. Where flu is occurring across the country, they’re not able to provide the lab support and the epidemiological support to state and local health departments. It’s very concerning. If someone discovers an outbreak, they can bring people back to help respond, but they don’t have the team on board watching out for disease in that early stage.”

Dr. Besser adds that most outbreaks are detected by state and local health departments.

Besser explains, “But certain ones are detected through special molecular laboratory testing that the CDC does in a system, that they run, that allows you to look at these strains across the country and pick up patterns. When that system was put in place, it was a major advance for public health. This furlough has put us back to the dark ages in that area. “

The CDC is warning people to avoid Foster Farms Chicken with three specific codes on the package: P6137, P6137a and P7632. Foster Farms has not issued a recall, but says it’s taking steps to control salmonella in their chicken.

Dr. Besser adds with salmonella and chicken, it all comes down to what you do with it in your kitchen.  He continues, “Even if you buy a chicken that is contaminated with salmonella, if you handle it properly and you cook it to 165 degrees as an internal temperature, you’re not going to get sick, and all the salmonella will be killed. But it’s this cross contamination in the kitchen and people not cooking their chicken well enough that puts people at risk.”

If you have fever, nausea, cramps and diarrhea within three days of eating poultry, make sure you see a doctor.

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WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.
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