Five Texans Sick from Fast-Spreading Salmonella

Strain resistant to antibiotics

At least five people in Texas have been sickened by a strain of salmonella that is resistant to antibiotics and has spread to 18 states, health officials said Tuesday.

Nearly 300 people have become ill since July in an outbreak of salmonella linked to raw chicken from the California poultry producer Foster Farms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recalled 30 workers to track the outbreak. They had been furloughed by the government shutdown.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Health Services, said he could not specify which parts of Texas were affected.

The strain concerns doctors because typical antibiotics don't seem to stop the disease.

"In our world, where we have lots of bacteria and lots of use of antibiotics," said Dr. Robert Genzel, an emergency room physician at Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth hospital. "Just like we evolve, the bacteria evolve, and so you start seeing bacteria get selected out."

The scare started in California, Oregon and Washington. But illnesses have now spread to a total of 18 states, including Texas.

Preventing the spread of the bacteria is as simple as washing your hands and keeping counter tops and utensils clean.

"People have to remember that while you're cooking the chicken, chopping it up, don't be testing the salad at the same time," Genzel said.

Also, experts say people need to cook chicken completely to 165 degrees.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has not directly linked the outbreak of illnesses to a specific product or production period. The USDA mark on suspect packages would read: P6137, P6137A and P7632.

Foster Farms officials said the chicken is safe to eat if cooked properly. It has also set up a consumer hotline at 800-338-8051.

NBC News contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us