US Witnesses Salmonella Outbreak

Author:  Yangguang Ou
Institution:  Florida State University
Date:  January 2009

US Government health officials have just reported a national outbreak of Salmonella food poisoning in 42 states, totaling up to nearly 400 cases by Thursday.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leading an investigation to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak. They have not yet released the detailed list of states affected by the epidemic as of Thursday, although it has been confirmed, according to the Associated Press, that it includes Georgia, Ohio, and California.

Salmonellosis is an infection by a group of bacterium known as Salmonella, which is usually found in poultry, eggs, meat, milk, and water but can also be carried by household pets such as birds and turtles in their feces. The most common type of Salmonella bacterium responsible for Salmonellosis, as in the case for the recent outbreak, is the bacterium Salmonella Typhimurium. It, like the other Salmonella bacteria, attacks the stomach and intestines, causing diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps approximately 12 to 72 hours after infection, according to the CDC.

Salmonellosis typically resolves itself within a week after symptoms occur and usually requires no medical treatment except for plenty of oral fluids (and also intravenous rehydration if the diarrhea becomes severe). However, when the bacteria spreads from the intestine to other locations, such as the lymph tracts (which delivers water and blood) or the bloodstream itself, antibiotics such as ampicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or ciprofloxacin are prescribed to the patients, according to the CDC.

Officials say that the best methods for prevention include careful preparation and cooking of meats as well as frequent washing of hands.

Written by Yangguang Ou

Edited by Brittany Raffa

Published by Hoi See Tsao