ATLANTA – An investigation is underway of a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Reading infections linked to raw turkey products, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are currently 90 reported cases in 26 states. Forty people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported. CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states are investigating the outbreak and the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) is monitoring the outbreak.

At this point in time, a single common supplier or raw turkey products or live turkeys has yet to be identified and linked to the outbreak. The National Turkey Federation said the industry is cooperating fully with the investigation.

“Our members are individually reviewing their Salmonella control programs in all phases of turkey production as well as working collectively through NTF to address this and all strains of Salmonella, NTF said in a statement. “The National Turkey Federation supports ongoing research related to turkey health and food safety and supports USDA’s Fight Bac! consumer food safety education program.”

According to CDC, the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading can be found in live turkeys and in many types of raw turkey products, which could indicate that the outbreak could be widespread in the turkey industry. CDC and USDA-FSIS are working with representatives from the turkey industry to develop steps to help reduce Salmonella contamination.

NTF noted that while more than half of the Salmonella isolates examined for antibiotic resistance showed resistance to one or more antibiotics, none of these are routinely used to treat Salmonellosis. “Multiple antibiotic options are still available to treat foodborne illness in people,” NTF added. “Regardless of if a strain of Salmonella is resistant to an antibiotic, it is still susceptible to being killed by cooking.”

FSIS reminds consumers to wash their hands thoroughly after handling any raw meat and poultry products, cook these products to the safe recommended temperature, and use a food thermometer.

USDA-FSIS is continuing to monitor the outbreak and work with federal partners on the investigation.