TODAY   |  October 09, 2013

Furloughed workers recalled to probe salmonella outbreak

Federal food safety workers have been recalled from furlough to track a fast-moving salmonella outbreak linked to raw chicken. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>> safety workers have been recalled to track a fast moving salmonella outbreak linked to chicken. gabe gutierrez is at the centers for disease control this morning in atlanta. what can you tell us?

>> reporter: good morning. a high percentage of the people getting sick are ending up in the hospital and that's raising questions about whether the government could be doing more to stop the outbreak if it wasn't partially shutdown. it's back to work this morning for some furloughed cdc workers on the job battling a salmonella outbreak that involves seven strains. some appear to be resistant to antibiotic. since july, 278 cases in 18 states. doctors say the outbreak is spreading quickly.

>> a lot of visits to the e.r. it does appear to be salmonella.

>> reporter: the usda traced the outbreak to raw chicken from three sights run by foster farms in california. they have one of these three numbers and were distributed to retailers on the west coast . shopper donny chance is worried.

>> i'll stop eating chicken for awhile i think.

>> reporter: still foster farms aren't recalled chicken. they say the products are safe to eat if properly handled and fully cooked. no deaths have been reported but about 42% of patients have been hospitalized.

>> the illnesses reported maybe the tip of the iceberg .

>> reporter: days ago after 9,000 workers were furloughed the head of the cdc sent this tweet, they protected you yesterday, can't tomorrow. microbs and other threats didn't show down. we're less safe.

>> this is what can come if public health officials aren't vigil and watching.

>> reporter: even with the recalled workers the food bourn outbreak division will only be at two thirds the normal staffing level today.

>>> thank you very much.