Public health officials are investigating a new outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul infections linked to ground beef.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting that the outbreak has been linked to ground beef sold at Shop Rite stores in the Northeast region of the United States. A sample of ground beef has tested positive for the Salmonella involved in the outbreak.

There is concern that some people may have unused portions of the ground beef in their freezers, but there aren’t any identifying details available for consumers to use to determine whether they have the implicated ground beef from Shop Rite stores.

Sixteen patients have been confirmed in four states. Six were so sick they had to be admitted to hospitals. No deaths have been reported as of this afternoon.

“Of the 14 people interviewed, nine reported eating ground beef. All nine purchased the ground beef from ShopRite locations in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Seven of these people specifically reported purchasing 80 percent lean ground beef products. Two people reported purchasing ground beef products from ShopRite but could not recall the type of ground beef,” according to the CDC’s outbreak announcement.

There are likely more people sick in the outbreak, according to the CDC, because many ill people do not seek medical attention. Also, there is a lag time between when a person becomes ill and when their tests, confirmation testing, and reports are filed with the federal government. 

Whole genome sequencing of patient samples shows the same strain of Salmonella has infected the outbreak patients, suggesting the same source of the pathogen, according to the CDC.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from April 27 through June 16. A routine sample taken by the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service in March showed a Salmonella strain closely related to that infecting the sick people, meaning that it is the most likely source of the illnesses.

Investigators are working to identify the source of the ground beef sick people ate. Because ground beef can have germs like Salmonella in it, the CDC always advises you to cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F before eating it.

About Salmonella infections
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 any 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.

Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

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