One person is dead and a total of eight have been hospitalized in an outbreak of Salmonella Dublin infections linked to ground beef. People started getting sick in August. Federal officials reported the outbreak this afternoon.

Investigators have not identified a specific brand of ground beef in relation to the six-state outbreak, according to an announcement posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Salmonella Dublin serotype is known for causing serious infections and the CDC noted this outbreak is producing an 80 percent hospitalization rate instead of the usual 20 percent rate associated with Salmonella illnesses.

The CDC is not recommending that people avoid ground beef. Rather, the agency is urging the public to take food safety into its own hands and be sure to avoid eating raw or undercooked ground beef. The federal agency also reminded consumers to take precautions such as washing their hands and kitchen utensils after handling raw meat.

“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that ground beef might be contaminated with Salmonella Dublin and is making people sick. At this time, the investigation has not identified a single, common supplier of ground beef,” the CDC reported.

A total of 10 people in six states have been confirmed as infected, according to the CDC. One of them in California died.

“In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill,” the CDC reported. “Of eight people interviewed, six (75 percent) reported eating ground beef at home. This percentage is significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 40 percent of respondents reported eating any ground beef at home in the week before they were interviewed.

“Ill people reported buying ground beef from various stores.”

Investigators collected a sample ground beef from the home of a sick person in California and tested it. The beef was contaminated with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Dublin. The sample was from ground beef that was left over and had been repackaged.

The CDC reported the following states with lab-confirmed patients as of today: California with 2, including the patient who died; Colorado 3; Iowa 1; Kansas 2; Oklahoma 1; and Texas 1.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from Aug. 8 to Sept. 22. However, there are likely yet unreported sick people because of the time lag between symptom onset, initial testing, confirmation testing, notification of state officials and notification of federal officials. The process can take four or more weeks for Salmonella infections.

The outbreak victims range in age from 48 to 74 years, with a median age of 68. Eighty percent of ill people are male. In half of the 10 confirmed patients, Salmonella was found in samples of blood, which indicates their illnesses may have been more severe.

“Typically, Salmonella Dublin illnesses are more severe because they can cause bloodstream infections, which are serious and require hospitalization,” according to the CDC.

About Salmonella infections
While Salmonella Dublin infections can be more serious than infections from other strains of the pathogen, there are some common signs and symptoms of salmonellosis.

Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten ground beef and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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