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Kosher Chicken Tied to Salmonella Outbreak Spanning Multiple States

AUG 29, 2018 | MICHAELA FLEMING
A total of 5 Salmonella outbreaks have been reported since June, and a sixth outbreak has just been declared.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working alongside the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella, this time linked to kosher chicken.

This outbreak marks the third poultry-related Salmonella outbreak declared this year. Other outbreaks connected to poultry have included a multistate drug-resistant outbreak linked to contact with live chickens and a multistate and multidrug-resistant outbreak tied to raw turkey products.

As of August 27, 2018, 17 cases of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- have been reported across 4 states. According to the CDC, 8 individuals have been hospitalized and 1 death has been reported. Whole genome sequencing of samples collected from ill individuals indicate that the infections are closely related, and, therefore, likely share a common source. 

The ill individuals range in age from <1 year to 76 years, with a median age of 14. Additionally, 53% of the ill are female. Illness onset dates range from September 25, 2017 to June 4, 2018. There may be other illnesses that are not recorded in this data due to the timeline for reporting Salmonella infections.

In a statement to Contagion®, The New York State Department of Health said, "The Department assisted in the identification of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella linked to kosher chicken. In New York State (excluding New York City), 5 cases of illness and [1] death has been reported."

As part of the investigation, ill individuals were interviewed about foods they had consumed and behaviors they partook in prior to becoming ill. A total of 14 individuals were interviewed by health officials and 100% reported consuming chicken products. Further, 9 individuals provided specific chicken brands; seven of those individuals reported consuming Empire Kosher chicken.

The USDA-FSIS was notified of an influx of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- cases reported in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic region on June 18, 2018. FSIS has worked alongside Empire Kosher since the potential link to the brand was discovered.

As part of routine Salmonella performance standards testing, USDA-FSIS collected samples from a facility that processes Empire Kosher brand chicken and identified the presence of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-in the sample.

Whole genome sequencing has indicated that the Salmonella detected in the sample has genetic similarities to the strain collected from the ill individuals.

On August 24, 2018, out of an abundance of caution, the FSIS issued a public health alert for Empire Kosher brand raw chicken items including raw whole chicken and raw chicken parts that were produced and sold to consumers from September 2017 to June 2018.

No recalls have been issued at this time.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours. The illness usually persists for 4 to 7 days and most individuals recover without treatment. However, in some cases, hospitalization may be required due to severe symptoms. Young children, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to complications.

Health care providers living in areas affected by the outbreak should be cognizant of these symptoms and consider Salmonella as a potential diagnosis if a patient presents with them.

This outbreak was resolved as of December 4, 2018. 

For a list of states affected by the multistate Salmonella Kosher Chicken Outbreak, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
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