Salmonella Reading Outbreak in Raw Turkey Continues

February 21, 2019

As of February 13, 279 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading associated with raw turkey products have been reported in 41 states and the District of Columbia.  Over one hundred people have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported from California.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that raw turkey products from a variety of sources are contaminated with Salmonella Reading and are making people sick.  In interviews, ill people report eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different locations.  Four of the ill people lived in households where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets.

The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products, and live turkeys.  Several turkey products have been recalled because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or live turkeys has not been identified that could account for the whole outbreak.   The Public Health Agency of Canada External has identified ill people in Canada infected with Salmonella Reading bacteria with the same DNA fingerprint.

Since 2006, Salmonella Reading had not been linked to an outbreak of an animal protein but did show up in a 2016 outbreak involving alfalfa sprouts.   This could be another example of competing organisms within food production; as we eliminate one species, what will take its place?