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Salmonella Poisoning from Chicken Products Has Sickened Hundreds of People

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a public health alert this week that hundreds of people in 18 states have come down with Salmonella poisoning. An unusually large number of them have needed hospitalization. The source is apparently chicken from Foster Farms. The outbreak is particularly worrisome because the strain of salmonella involved is resistant to some common antibiotics. 

This outbreak comes at a challenging time for public health officials. Many workers at the CDC have been furloughed because of the government shutdown. The agency also had to close down its national computer network that collects data from 87 public health laboratories around the country and offers early warning signals on food-borne illnesses and other types of infections.

It is discouraging that Foster Farms has not recalled the affected products. Instead, they point to the need for consumers to cook all chicken until it is well done (at least 165 degrees F on the meat thermometer) and to wash hands and surfaces that touch raw chicken scrupulously. Those are always wise precautions, since it is not possible to tell at a glance whether or not a chicken has been infected with Salmonella.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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