strain of salmonella
has sickened 388 people in 42 states, sending some to the hospital, over
the past three months. There's only one problem — so far no one's been able
to figure out what's causing it.
The outbreak led the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention to increase its efforts to find the source this week, pulling in
staff from other areas to work on the situation, says Frederick Angulo, deputy chief of enteric diseases.
WEB: CDC info on salmonella
The bacteria is called
salmonella Typhimurium. Each case has been
laboratory matched by DNA fingerprint, Angulo
Salmonellosis, the illness caused by
infection with the salmonella bacteria, can cause diarrhea, fever and
abdominal cramps from 12 to 72 hours after infection. It usually lasts four
to seven days.
While most people recover without treatment, in some
the diarrhea is so severe they require hospitalization. The disease can be
life threatening to the very young, the very old and those with impaired
The best protection against salmonella is careful
handling of raw meat, frequent hand washing and not eating raw or
undercooked meat, CDC says.
Thorough cooking kills the bacteria.
Salmonella lives in the intestinal tract of many
animals and is generally transmitted by eating food contaminated by feces
from an infected animal. Contaminated foods are often beef, poultry, milk
and eggs, but the CDC says any foods, including vegetables, can become
contaminated if they come into contact with feces from an infected animal.