An outbreak of salmonella linked to ground beef has sickened more than a dozen people across four states in the Northeast, according to a notice published this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of July 25, at least 16 illnesses have been reported, six of which have led to hospitalization — no deaths have been reported in the outbreak so far.
Nine of the people sickened are in New Jersey, five are in New York, one is in Connecticut and one is in Massachusetts, according to CDC data.
Ground beef was the only common food consumed that was reported by those sickened. According to the CDC, all of the people who could recall which product they consumed and where it was from reported eating 80% lean ground beef purchased from ShopRite at locations in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. The illnesses were reported between April 27 and June 16, per the CDC.
Health officials are still investigating this outbreak to determine the source of the salmonella-tainted ground beef, the CDC noted, and no recalls have been issued so far.
"The true number of sick people is likely much higher than the number reported ... This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for salmonella," the CDC said in its investigation details.
Additionally, recent illnesses may not be reported yet because it can take three to four weeks to determine if a sick person is part of a salmonella outbreak, the CDC added.
What is salmonella?
Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of humans and animals, and are shed through feces, according to the Mayo Clinic. Infection with salmonella (salmonellosis) typically occurs through contaminated food, water, surfaces, or hands. People can get sick from eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or eggs which can harbor the bacteria, TODAY previously reported.
Ground beef is a known source of salmonella outbreaks in the United States, according to the CDC.
Symptoms of salmonella infection
Infection with salmonella can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and fever. Symptoms typically begin between six hours and six days after infection, per the CDC, but some people may not experience symptoms for weeks.
In most people, symptoms will resolve on their own in four to seven days, but they can become severe and lead to hospitalization, TODAY previously reported. Children under five, adults over 65, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are at the highest risk for severe infection, per the CDC.
The CDC encourages people to contact their healthcare provider if they experience severe symptoms, which include: bloody stool, a fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit, diarrhea that doesn't improve after three days, severe vomiting, or signs of dehydration.
How to prevent salmonella infection
You can prevent getting sick with salmonella and other foodborne illnesses by taking several steps, per the CDC:
- Wash hands with soap and water before, during, and after cooking and after using the bathroom.
- Keep raw meat separate from foods that won’t be cooked.
- Clean all surfaces, utensils, and dishes that touch raw meat before using them to cook other food.
- Cook meat to a safe internal temperature (160 degrees Fahrenheit for beef), measured with a meat thermometer per USDA guidelines.
- Avoid handling or cooking food for others when sick.
- Chill leftovers within two hours in a refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler.