ALERT: Ground Beef Leads to New Salmonella Outbreak

( – More than a dozen people got food poisoning in the northeast US in mid-July, with the outbreak centered in New Jersey. Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say it looks like the culprit was ground beef — and there could be a lot more victims than the ones identified so far.

On July 25, the CDC announced that investigators are probing an outbreak of salmonella across four northeastern states. Sixteen people are known to have got sick, six of them needing hospitalization. Nine of the victims are from New Jersey, with others in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

The main thing the CDC wants to know is where the infection came from. So far, they’ve worked out that the only food eaten by all the known victims before they got sick was ground beef. Epidemiologists hate to hear that the common factor is something as ubiquitous as ground beef, but luckily everyone who remembered what kind of beef they’d eaten named the same product — Shoprite 80% lean.

Although the CDC is listing 16 victims, it’s likely there are many more. People with a mild case of salmonella often don’t bother getting medical attention and recover without their illness ever being reported.

Salmonella-related food poisoning, technically known as salmonellosis, is caused by one of two bacteria — Salmonella bongori and Salmonella enterica. Victims are usually infected by contaminated food, usually meat; poultry is particularly likely to carry the bacteria.

The most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps, but more severe cases can develop into typhoid. It can be deadly; worldwide, almost 100,000 people a year die of salmonella. If you get food poisoning symptoms within six days of eating ground beef or other meat, it could be salmonella — and you should get medical attention.

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