The Centers for Disease Control is a major part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC protects the U.S. from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and domestic.
The agency has been at the forefront of news since the pandemic swept across the country. It has been studying COVID-19 and advising on how to deal with the virus. Tap or click here to check out an interactive map that tracks the Delta variant’s movements.
Now, the CDC is investigating a mysterious salmonella outbreak that, as of last week, had already led to 127 illnesses and 18 hospitalizations across half of the U.S.
Here’s the backstory
There are more than 2,500 types of the bacteria salmonella, but less than 100 are known to cause infections in humans. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, which usually arise between six hours and six days after infection and last up to a week. The CDC notes that some people don’t develop symptoms for weeks while others experience symptoms for many weeks.
Most cases of salmonella infection pass without the need for antibiotics. But vulnerable people such as children under five and adults 65 and over, along with those with weakened immune systems, may experience a more severe illness that requires hospitalization.
The CDC estimates that salmonella causes about 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths in the U.S. each year.
The latest outbreak
On Sept. 2, 2021, the CDC identified an outbreak of 20 Salmonella Oranienburg infections, which have spread rapidly since then. As of Sept. 15, 127 cases of the illness have been reported across 25 states, with an age range of one to 82. No deaths have been reported.
The CDC notes that the number of sick people in an outbreak is usually higher than what’s reported, and the spread may be greater. This is because most people recover without medical care, and not everyone is tested for infection.
How to report an illness
The CDC is advising anyone with symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and cramps should visit their doctor and report their illness to a local health department. Have a list of foods you ate within the past week ready. If you are experiencing severe symptoms like bloody stool, high fever and/or vomiting, seek medical attention.
You can find a list of state and territorial health departments at cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/healthdepartments.
Protect against Salmonella infection
The CDC provides food safety tips to prevent salmonella infection:
- Wash your hands, utensils and surfaces often.
- Rinse vegetables and fruits under running water before preparing or eating them.
- Keep food that won’t be cooked away from raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- Use a food thermometer to determine that your cooked food reached a temperature high enough to kill germs and bacteria. This varies for the type of meat and you can find details at foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-cooking-temperature.
- Refrigerate perishable food within two hours (1 hour if the food has been out in the heat). Thaw food in the fridge.