Ground beef appears to be the source of a recent Salmonella outbreak.
So far, the CDC have received notification of 10 cases of infection caused by Salmonella Dublin.
The cases span six states: California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The CDC have carried out laboratory tests on bacteria isolated from the affected individuals.
Using whole genome sequencing, they found that "Bacteria isolated from ill people were closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection."
Ground beef to blame
Scientists from the CDC have identified a strain of Salmonella Dublin in leftover ground beef at one of the affected individual's homes.
However, the CDC have not been able to pin down a specific supplier of meat because individuals have consumed different brands of ground beef purchased from different locations.
The CDC have also tested samples of raw beef from several meat production facilities.
"The outbreak strain of Salmonella Dublin has also been identified in six samples of raw beef products from slaughter and processing establishments."
The resulting Salmonella cases have been more severe than usual. To date, eight people with the infection have been hospitalized, and one person in California has died. According to the CDC, Salmonella's hospitalization rate is normally 20%.
In five people with the infection, scientists found Salmonella in blood samples, which is often a sign that the illness is more severe.
Salmonella tends to be most severe in children aged under 5 years and adults older than 65. Individuals with reduced immune function are also more likely to experience worse symptoms.
In this outbreak, illnesses started between August 8 and September 22; the ages of those involved ranged from 48–74 years.
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Safety advice from the CDC
The CDC is not recommending that people stop eating ground beef products; however, they offer some safety advice and information about best practices:
- Ensure that ground beef is cooked thoroughly — to a temperature of at least 160°F.
- At restaurants, ask that meat be cooked to the appropriate temperature.
- Keep uncooked meat separate from food items that will not be cooked.
- After handling raw meat, wash the hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Thoroughly wash anything that has come into contact with the raw meat, such as work surfaces and utensils.
- Freeze or refrigerate raw ground beef within 2 hours of purchasing it.
- Store ground beef in the lowest area of the fridge or freezer so it does not drip onto other food items.
- After cooking it, refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of eating, and consume the rest within 3–4 days.
When checking that meat has reached the correct temperature, the CDC offers further advice:
- For burgers, insert the thermometer into the center of the patty.
- For meatloaf, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.
- For casseroles and sandwiches, insert the thermometer into several places.
For now, the CDC are continuing to hunt for the precise source of the infection; they write, "This [outbreak] investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information becomes available."