Health district: Drug-resistant salmonella strain is manageable; avoidable

Health district: Drug-resistant salmonella strain is manageable; avoidable

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is warning about an outbreak of multiple antibiotic-resistant salmonella infections linked to raw chicken with 92 infections in 29 states, including here in Washington.

Health officials say the only thing linking the victims is a variety of raw-chicken products from several sources.

"It's just the way it is," explained Heather Hill from Benton-Franklin Health District. "You can't look at it and say, "This one has salmonella'. Assume the chicken you're cooking for dinner has salmonella in it."

The registered nurse said most cases of salmonella poisoning are poultry related.

Nausea. Vomiting. Diarrhea.

Hill says salmonella poisoning can be dangerous for the elderly and children, but healthy adults are just going to feel crummy for a few days before bouncing back.

While the CDC says the latest strains making headlines are antibiotic resistant, Hill says it's no more dangerous than other bugs.

She said doctors rarely use antibiotics in the first place.

"It is much better to let the disease run its course, making sure they stay hydrated," she said.

Hill, a communicable disease specialist, says the real danger is cross-contamination in your home.

Raw chicken juice dripping on raw vegetables.

"Because cooking kills salmonella," she said. "You don't cook your lettuce, you make your salad, you eat your lettuce, you get sick."

She also warns to wash your hands, and do it often.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are fine when you're at the park, but nothing beats 20-seconds of soap and warm water.

"You're literally getting the organisms off your hand," she demonstrated. "You're not killing it on your hand, you wash it down the drain."

Hands are one thing, the actual bird is another.

Hill says rinsing poultry before baking it might actually be worse.

"There's a little bit of splashing that happens, and a little bit can land on the tap, the handle you're using, the counter. Now you've contaminated surfaces," she said.

Hill's final tip: properly sanitize surfaces after preparing raw meat on them, especially poultry.

"Many people catch infections in their very own home, you just need to assume it's there," she said.

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