Eight Nevadans have been sickened by an outbreak of the Salmonella bacteria, a news release from the Nevada Department of Agriculture states.
The outbreak started in Foster Farms meat packing plants in northern California.
Chicken produced in these facilities can be identified by a number in a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection seal on the product.
The seals are usually small circles. The words “Inspected for wholesomeness by the U.D. Department of Agriculture” in an arch at the top take up most of the seal. At the bottom is the plant number where the meat was packaged.
Meat from the plants where the outbreak originated will be numbered: P6137; P6137A; P7632.
Foster Farms, like many food companies, sometimes sells its products under a different package. Most store brand foods are packaged by more well-known companies, but carry a different label.
Concerned consumers should check the label of chicken products before purchasing any chicken products.
No recall has been issued for the chicken products, and Foster Farms chicken was still on shelves at the Hawthorne Safeway on Monday, although signs warn customers of the outbreak.
“This issue has had a limited impact on our state compared to others because product distribution was minimal,” said Dr. Michael Greenlee, state veterinarian for the Nevada Department of Agriculture in the news release. “However, the public should be reminded that the most effective way to prevent illness from all chicken products is to handle them properly and to follow package directions when cooking to ensure the poultry reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.”
The number of people impacted by the outbreak is still growing. By Monday it had sickened more than 300 people nationwide, although most of the cases are in California and Washington. While the outbreak had not yet claimed any lives, about 42 percent of the ill had been hospitalized.
The symptoms of a salmonella infection are typically diarrhea, fever, or abdominal cramps. The illness is generally not serious or life threatening, although people with weakened immune systems, like the very young; elderly; people with an HIV infection; or people on chemotherapy, sometimes experience complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, the most people clear the infection in five to seven days. Generally the only treatment is drinking fluids, although people with severe diarrhea sometimes need intravenous fluids as well.
Antibiotics are generally only prescribed to people who are very serious cases, the website says.
“Antibiotic resistance is increasing among some salmonella bacteria; therefore, susceptibility testing can help guide appropriate therapy,” the website says.
Salmonella can contaminate any food. Although poultry and eggs are the most well known culprits, other meats are also common infector.
The best weapon against an infection is thorough cooking.
Cooking food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit will kill most of the salmonella bacteria in the food.
Separate cooked and raw foods, to avoid accidental contamination, and make sure to clean hands, and all surfaces and utensils with soap and water as soon as they’ve been used.