A Clark County boy is among the more than 50 people statewide infected with salmonella in an outbreak that appears to be linked to pork.
State and local health officials are investigating several cases and clusters of salmonella infections across the state. The ongoing investigation involves at least 56 cases in eight counties and includes food served at a variety of events, the Washington state Department of Health announced Thursday.
No source of infection has been found yet, but state disease investigators continue to explore several sources from farm to table and are focused on an apparent link to pork consumption or contamination from raw pork. The investigation shows a potential exposure source for several cases was whole roasted pigs, cooked and served at private events, according to the state health department.
Salmonellosis, the illness caused by salmonella infection, can cause severe diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Serious bloodstream infections also may occur, according to the state health department.
As of Thursday, the state has recorded 56 cases this year among residents in King (44), Snohomish (4), Mason (2), Thurston (2), Pierce (1), Grays Harbor (1), Yakima (1) and Clark (1) counties. Five people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
All were infected with the same strain of salmonella bacteria, according to the state health department.
Clark County Public Health learned in June that an 8-year-old local boy had contracted salmonella. He was not hospitalized and has since recovered from the illness, said Don Strick, public health spokesman.
“The investigation is ongoing and we will work with the state to determine if this is related to the statewide outbreak,” Strick said in an email.
Local health officials have not yet determined how the boy was exposed to the bacteria, Strick said.
As a result of the outbreak, state health officials are reminding people of the importance of proper food care, handling, preparation and cooking to prevent illness.
Health officials recommend cooking meat to a safe internal temperature — 145 degrees for whole cuts of pork — using a meat thermometer. Thermometers should be placed in the thickest part of the meat, avoiding bone, fat and cartilage, according to health officials.
Other food safety tips include washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after preparing food, especially raw meat; avoiding placing cooked food on plates that previously held raw meat; and sanitizing cutting boards, knives and counter tops that come into contact with raw meat.