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    UPDATE, FEB. 17
    The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has put the case count of Salmonella illnesses attributed to Fareway chicken salad at 28 confirmed and 66 possible. The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed one case, in Martin County.

    The IDPH said all 28 confirmed cases show the presence of Salmonella Typhimurium, one of three main serovars of Salmonella enterica. (From wikipedia: “A serovar is a distinct variation within a species of bacteria or virus or among immune cells of different individuals.”) The illness onset dates range from Jan. 1 to Feb. 16.

    UPDATE, FEB. 15
    The outbreak of Salmonella illnesses in Iowa attributed to Fareway chicken salad has prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to issue a public health alert.

    “FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers,” according to the alert posted Wednesday night. “Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

    Although the only illnesses reported so far have occurred in Iowa, the Fareway chicken salad also was for sale at all Fareway grocery stores in Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Fareway has not issued a recall for the chicken salad.

    Fareway chicken salad has been linked to multiple cases of Salmonella illnesses across the state of Iowa.

    Preliminary test results from the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa indicated the presence of Salmonella in the chicken salad sold by the grocery store chain.

    The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) jointly issued a consumer advisory for the Fareway chicken salad, which was produced and packaged by a third party.

    Officials at Fareway – which is based in Boone, IA – said they have voluntarily pulled the chicken salad from stores after being contacted by the DIA.

    “The company has been very cooperative and is working with IDPH and DIA in the investigation of the reported illnesses,” said DIA Food and Consumer Safety Bureau Chief Steven Mandernach, who said no packages of chicken salad have been sold since last Friday.

    Consumers who still have the Fareway chicken salad in their refrigerators are advised to throw it out.

    Fareway chicken salad

    Fareway chicken salad has been linked to a Salmonella outbreak in Iowa.

    Fareway chicken salad:
    What to know about Salmonella

    Salmonella infections are quite common in the United States, according to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria annually produce 1 million foodborne illnesses, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths.

    Usually, people who get salmonellosis – the illness produced by Salmonella – develop symptoms within 12 to 36 hours after eating food contaminated with the bacteria. Symptoms, however, can appear as early as six hours and as late as three days after ingestion.

    Symptoms usually last four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. Those symptoms can include:

    • diarrhea, which can be bloody
    • nausea
    • abdominal pain
    • fever
    • headache
    • vomiting
    • dehydration
    • muscle pains.

    Fareway chicken salad:
    Complications of Salmonella

    In some cases, the diarrhea associated with a Salmonella infection can cause dehydration, which can result in hospitalization. When dehydration occurs in certain people — especially infants and young children, the elderly, transplant recipients, pregnant women, and people with suppressed immune systems — the development of complications can be dangerous.

    Those complications can include:

    Dehydration: If you can’t drink enough water to replace the fluid you’re losing from persistent diarrhea, you may become dehydrated. Warning signs include:

    • decreased urine output
    • dry mouth
    • sunken eyes
    • reduced production of tears.

    Bacteremia: If Salmonella infection enters the bloodstream (bacteremia), it can infect tissues throughout the body, including:

    • the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
    • the lining of the heart or valves (endocarditis)
    • bones and/or bone marrow (osteomyelitis)
    • the lining of blood vessels, especially if a vascular graft is present.

    Reactive arthritis: People who have had a Salmonella infection are at higher risk of developing reactive arthritis, or Reiter’s syndrome. Reactive arthritis typically causes:

    • eye irritation
    • painful urination
    • painful joints.

    Avoiding and preventing Salmonella

    According to the Mayo Clinic, preventive methods are important when preparing food or providing care for infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Be sure to cook food thoroughly and refrigerate or freeze food promptly.

    In addition, it’s advisable to do the following:

    Wash hands: Washing hands thoroughly can help prevent the transfer of Salmonella bacteria to your mouth or to food you’re preparing. You should wash your hands after you:

    • use the toilet
    • change a diaper
    • handle raw meat or poultry
    • clean up pet feces
    • touch reptiles or birds.

    Keep things separate: It’s important to prevent cross-contamination. To accomplish that, follow these steps:

    • Store raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods in your refrigerator.
    • If possible, have two cutting boards in the kitchen — one for raw meat, and one for fruits and vegetables.
    • Never place cooked food on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat.

    Avoid eating raw eggs: Cookie dough, homemade ice cream and eggnog all contain raw eggs and should be avoided. If eggs have been pasteurized, they are generally safe to consume when raw.