As of November 5, 2018, 164 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading have been reported from 35 states.

Illnesses started on dates from November 20, 2017, to October 20, 2018.

Ill people range in age from less than one year to 91, with a median age of 45.

Fifty-six percent of ill people are female.

Of 135 people with information available, 63 (47%) have been hospitalized.

One death has been reported from California.

State and local health departments continue to interview ill people about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of 85 people interviewed, 44 (52%) people interviewed reported preparing or eating turkey products that were purchased raw, including ground turkey, turkey pieces, and whole turkey. Ill people reported buying many different brands of raw turkey products from multiple stores. Also, 3 of the 85 ill people interviewed became sick after pets in their home ate raw ground turkey pet food. Three of the 85 ill people interviewed worked in a facility that raises or processes turkeys, or lived with someone who did.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading has been identified in samples from raw turkey pet food in Minnesota, from live turkeys from several states, and from raw turkey products collected from ill people’s homes. The raw turkey samples collected from ill people’s homes are still being investigated to determine the source of the turkey.

The outbreak strain was also identified in samples from raw turkey products from 22 slaughter and 7 processing establishments. The samples collected by FSIS at these slaughter and processing establishments were part of FSIS’s routine testing under the Salmonella performance standards. Furthermore, whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the Salmonella strain isolated from these samples is closely related genetically to the Salmonella strain from ill people. This result provides more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from preparing raw turkey products.

WGS analysis did not identify predicted antibiotic resistance in 116 isolates from 53 ill people and 63 food and animal samples. However, 68 isolates from ill people and 84 isolates from food, animal, and environmental samples contained genes for resistance to all or some of the following antibiotics: ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, kanamycin, gentamicin, nalidixic acid, ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, and fosfomycin. Testing of five outbreak isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory confirmed these results. Most of the infections in this outbreak are susceptible to the antibiotics that are commonly used for treatment, so this resistance likely will not affect the choice of antibiotic used to treat most people.

Available data indicate that this strain of Salmonella Reading may be present in live turkeys and in raw turkey products. A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified.

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Photo of Bruce Clark Bruce Clark

Bruce Clark is a partner in Marler Clark. In 1993, Bruce became involved in foodborne illness litigation as an attorney for Jack in the Box restaurants in its E. coli O157:H7 personal injury litigation. The Jack in the Box litigation spanned more than four years and involved more than 100 lawsuits in four states. Since that time, Bruce has been continuously involved in food and waterborne illness litigation involving bacterial, viral, and parasitic agents in settings ranging from large scale outbreaks to individual cases. He has extensive expertise in the medical, microbiological, and epidemiological aspects of foodborne illness cases gleaned from more than a decade of working with leading experts across the country. Bruce frequently speaks to public health groups as well as food industry groups about the realities of foodborne illness litigation and efforts that can help avoid the damage foodborne pathogens inflict.