Thanks to That Salmonella Outbreak, CDC Staff Gets to Go Back to Work

Well that was quick. Seemingly hours after officials issued a health warning about a multi-state salmonella outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) called nearly all of its food monitoring staff back in to work.

"Earlier in the shutdown we had only one person on Pulsenet (the foodborne illness network)," Barbara Reynolds, the CDC's public affairs director, told CBS News. "But we're now bringing in almost a full staff to monitor the salmonella outbreak and 30 others." Of course, if the government hadn't furloughed all but one of the scientists whose job it is (in part) to keep outbreaks like this from happening then the nearly 300 people nationwide with salmonella poisoning would be having a much better week. Thanks Congress.


There's a Massive US Salmonella Outbreak Amid the FDA Shutdown

Be careful what you put in your mouth: a public health alert has been issued by the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) surrounding a massive salmonella outbreak. It comes on the back of the recent FDA closure because of the Government shutdown.


The outbreak relates to chicken to produced at three Foster Farms facilities. So far there have been 278 reported cases of Salmonella Heidelberg infections, affecting people in 18 states—most of which are in California, the main distribution area for the chicken in question.

What really sucks is that the US Department of Agriculture website that hosts health alerts about outbreaks like this is only partially available "due to the lapse in federal government funding." The Food Safety and Inspection Service site is also "available but is not being regularly updated." Gee, useful.

Speaking to Wired, an official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention went as far as admitting that his organization "will not be conducting multi-state outbreak investigations." Without a means of investigating the situation, let alone communicating it, it seems unlikely the outbreak is going to disappear quickly.


Just so you're aware, symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, abdominal pains, vomiting, and fever. Maybe you want to stick to instant noodles for a little while? [USDA via Wired via Verge]

Image by RaulPerezFoto under Creative Commons license

Update: The CDC is now bringing back nearly all its staff; they've been relabeled as "essential." What do you know.