Featured Story: Salmonella Breaks Out Across United States

Source: MedicineNet

The following article was written by the Everyday Med team.

Amidst the raging global pandemic that is COVID-19, another outbreak has been making its way around the U.S. As of July 28, over 938 people in 49 states across the U.S. have been infected with a strain of Salmonella, according to the CDC.

The first reported case of Salmonella in the United States was on February 26. Since then, 151 people out of 461 people with information available have been hospitalized and there has been one reported death as of July 29. However, that doesn’t account for every infected person: the CDC states that, “For every person with a Salmonella illness confirmed by a laboratory test, there are about 30 more people with Salmonella illnesses that are not reported.”

Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, according to labroots.com. According to the article, “if the bacterium gets into the bloodstream it can become more serious.” Children under 5 years old, adults over 65, and immunocompromised individuals are at the highest risk for severe illness, as stated by The Hill. The majority of people who contract Salmonella recover without the help of treatment, according to the CDC.

Initially, the CDC asked infected individuals to list foods they ate the week they began showing symptoms. By July 28, they confirmed that the outbreak strain was linked to backyard poultry as 74 percent of 409 infected persons interviewed reported having contact with chicks or ducklings.

The outbreak could be partly due to the pandemic itself, as stores limited the amount of meat and eggs people could purchase at a time, and prices increased throughout the United States. As a result, people “panic-bought” chicks in the spring, according to the Fort Worth Stay-Telegram. People want long term food security, which they can attain with domestic food production through chickens.

There is also recent evidence of red onions being the source of the most recent outbreak. The FDA is looking into the different varieties of onions that “could have come in contact with potentially contaminated red onions, due to the risk of cross contamination.” The source: Thomas International, a producer supplier in Bakersfield, California. California is one of the states with the highest number of infected people.

The CDC recommends that, to prevent infection, people should wash their hands regularly and properly, be safe around poultry and to handle eggs safely, especially by cooking at higher temperatures.


Allen, Cynthia M. “First It Was Toilet Paper. Now, the Trendy Thing to Panic-Buy Is … Baby Chickens?” Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 17 Apr. 2020, www.star-telegram.com/opinion/cynthia-m-allen/article242053666.html.

Deese, Kaelan. “CDC Investigating Salmonella Outbreak in 23 States.” TheHill, The Hill, 25 July 2020, thehill.com/policy/healthcare/public-global-health/509022-cdc-investigating-salmonella-outbreak-in-23-states.

Erdman, Shelby Lin. “Red Onions Linked to Salmonella Outbreak That Has Sickened People in 31 States.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 Aug. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/08/01/health/red-onions-salmonella-outbreak/index.html.

“Map of Reported Cases.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 July 2020, www.cdc.gov/salmonella/backyardpoultry-05-20/map.html.

“Ongoing Salmonella Outbreak Rapidly Spreads to 23 States: Microbiology.” LabRoots, 26 July 2020, www.labroots.com/trending/microbiology/18226/ongoing-salmonella-outbreak-rapidly-spreads-23.

“Prevention.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Feb. 2019, www.cdc.gov/salmonella/general/prevention.html.

Written by Keya Mann, edited by Lucy Ge, graphics by Karis Kelly, group advised by Sadia Akbar

Personal blog of the founder of Everyday Med, an organization focused on helping others learn about everyday medicine, careers, and COVID-19 effects.