Consumers are being warned to take care handling raw poultry after federal health officials reported an outbreak of illness in 26 states and one death are linked to ground turkey.
The Centers for Disease Control said Monday that its investigation identified 77 people infected with the identical antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella, including 51 who got sick since March. An outstate Minnesota woman sickened in March was among the 22 people who were hospitalized, a Minnesota Health Department official said.
No recall had been announced as of late Monday, but the CDC said three of four samples of ground turkey tested at retailers during recent routine monitoring came from one producer, which wasn't identified. Salmonella found in the samples was matched to the outbreak strain using DNA fingerprinting, the CDC said.
Salmonella is common in raw poultry, especially ground turkey. "It is not unusual to find salmonella in ground turkey, but it is unusual to have this number of people with the same exact salmonella," said Carlota Medus, an epidemiologist with the Health Department.
The U.S. Agriculture Department issued a public health alert late Friday about the outbreak. An agency spokesman said Monday that the investigation, which could lead to a recall, is still underway.
Michigan and Ohio had the most infections, with 10 each, but the outbreak was widely scattered across the country. Wisconsin had three cases.
In April, Jennie-O Turkey Store, a company owned by Hormel, recalled nearly 55,000 pounds of frozen raw turkey burger products linked to another strain of salmonella.