Thousands Are Sick In Salmonella Outbreak

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Roughly 2,000 people have fallen sick this summer from salmonella enteritidis, in what has become one of the biggest salmonella epidemics in years.

There are almost three times as many cases as would be expected from recent years’ trends, according to a report yesterday from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That number likely doesn’t include most cases from the last two to three weeks, either, because case reports do not reach the CDC immediately.  During that time hundreds of millions of eggs have been recalled by an Iowa-based firm, Wright County Egg, due to suspected salmonella contamination.

Today ABC reports some provocative details about the source of those recalled eggs. Writing about the owner of the company in question, the news outlet reports:

He’s been involved in legal cases that have forced him to settle with the federal government for hiring illegal immigrants, for tolerating sexual harassment at his company, and has faced a litany of animal cruelty charges. [The company owner] has also paid millions of dollars in fines and settlements over the years stemming from complaints about the health violations at his farms.

ABC goes on to report in that piece:

One of the more egregious [complaints] was filed in the summer of 1996 when [he] was made to pay more than $3 million in fines after the U.S. Labor Department found dead chickens being picked up by workers with bare hands.

A company spokesperson told ABC that the owner was not available for an interview.

If you suspect you may have salmonella poisoning, you can check your symptoms against a number of reputable online sources, including the CDC website on the disease. Signs of infection will usually occur 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria, and may include fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea. Most healthy people will fight off a salmonella infection without any problems. But people with weak immune systems — including in many cases the elderly or the very young — are at greater risk. Diarrhea can have serious consequences. And if salmonella spreads to the blood stream from the intestines it can even be fatal. So don’t be shy: Contact your doctor if you suspect salmonella. The infection can be treated with antibiotics.