You might want to pass on the antipasto for a while.
Italian-style deli meats like salami and prosciutto have been linked to salmonella outbreaks across multiple states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned on Wednesday. The CDC confirmed that three dozen people have become sick from one of two strains of salmonella across 17 states so far: either salmonella Typhimurium (infecting 23 people in 14 states) or salmonella Infantis (infecting 13 people in seven states).
The salmonella Typhimurium outbreak has been reported in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. Lab testing found that 20 of these 23 cases were resistant to common antibiotics. Nine people were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported as of press time.
The salmonella Infantis outbreak — which generally infects children under two — has been reported in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota and New York. The 13 people infected with this strain ranged in age from 1 to 74; three were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported as of press time. And lab tests didn’t find antibiotic resistance in these cases.
But the CDC added that, “the true number of sick people in the outbreaks is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreaks may not be limited to the states with known illnesses.” That’s because many people showing symptoms of salmonella (diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting or headache) may not seek medical attention or get tested. What’s more, it can take up to four weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak, the CDC noted, so recent cases may not have been reported yet.
Most of the people who fell sick with salmonella (88%) reported eating Italian-style deli meats such as salami, prosciutto, coppa and sopressata, which are often included in antipasto or charcuterie assortments. “Investigators are working to identify which Italian-style meat brands and products are making people sick,” the CDC wrote.
In the meantime, health officials recommend that people at higher risk for severe salmonella illness should heat Italian-style meats to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, or get the meats “steaming hot” before eating. Those most at risk include infants who are not breast-fed, children under five, and adults ages 65 and up. Those with weakened immune systems, or people taking certain medications (such as stomach acid reducers, or drugs that weaken the immune system) are also at higher risk of severe salmonella infections.
Most people can recover from a salmonella infection within four to seven days on their own, and they should drink extra fluids for as long as diarrhea lasts, to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Anyone suffering salmonella symptoms should call a doctor, however, if they have severe symptoms such as: diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit; bloody stool; diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving; prolonged vomiting that prevents them from keeping liquids down; and signs of dehydration such as making little urine, having a dry mouth and throat, and dizziness when standing up. Antibiotics are used to treat those with severe illness, or for those with weakened immune systems or other medical problems, such as heart disease.