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California man dies in salmonella outbreak tied to ground turkey

August 2, 2011 |  3:45 pm

Photo: Turkeys are seen inside a shed in West Liberty, Iowa. Credit: Jessica Rinald / Reuters A man who lived in Sacramento County is the first known fatality in a 26-state outbreak of a drug-resistant strain of salmonella linked to ground turkey, state health officials said Tuesday.

Seventy-six other people, including five in California, have been sickened by the strain of salmonella heidelberg, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

That brings the state’s total number of cases to six and makes it one of the hardest-hit by the outbreak. The California Department of Public Health said the death was one of two reported cases in Sacramento County.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside and San Diego counties have each reported one case.

Of the victims nationwide, the CDC said they range from an infant to an 88-year-old.

Twenty-two have been hospitalized. The cases have been linked to fresh and frozen ground turkey, the CDC said, although officials have declined to name the four retail locations they said sold the tainted meat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has not called for a product recall yet, saying there’s not enough data. Instead, the agency issued an alert about the outbreak and urged consumers to fully cook and properly prepare their meat.

This marks the second time in recent months that turkey has been tied to a salmonella contamination. In April, 12 people fell ill amid an outbreak that resulted in the recall of nearly 55,000 pounds of Jennie-O turkey burgers.

Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain, and can be fatal to young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.


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Photo: Turkeys are seen inside a shed in West Liberty, Iowa. Credit: Jessica Rinald / Reuters