Though it might seem coincidental that this turkey-linked Salmonella outbreak hit when we're a little over a week out from Thanksgiving — a holiday many refer to as "Turkey Day" — infections caused by raw turkey products were first reported in July. Since then, 74 more illnesses in 26 more states have been investigated, which brings the total number of cases up to 164.
The outbreak is especially worrisome as the salmonella is multidrug-resistant. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, per the CDC. Symptoms usually subside after 4 to 7 days, and most people don't require treatment, however, salmonella poisoning can be especially harmful to young children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. So far, 63 people have been hospitalized due to infection linked to this particular outbreak and one person has died. Additionally, the outbreak is very serious because a single supplier has yet to be identified. According to the CDC, "The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading is present in live turkeys and in many types of raw turkey products, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry."
While the current salmonella outbreak is scary, especially this time of year when turkey consumption is up, the CDC isn't advising people to stay away from turkey altogether. It's simply encouraging people to handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly. That means, wash your hands before and after prepping and eating food, cook your Thanksgiving turkey to an internal temperature to 165 degrees, and wash food preparation areas and tools after use. The salmonella outbreak does not have to ruin Turkey Day. Instead, let it be a reminder to use safe and clean practices in the kitchen next Thursday and beyond.