Health Highlights: Oct. 8, 2013

By on October 8, 2013

Health Highlights: Oct. 8, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Salmonella Outbreak Traced to Chicken From California Plants

Raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California has been identified as the cause of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 278 people in 18 states since March, according to federal officials.

Consumers need to cook chicken thoroughly and take other precautions in order to prevent illness, the Department of Agriculture said Monday. The chicken was distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington state and most of the illnesses have occurred in California, the Associated Press reported.

Even though the outbreak appears to have begun in March, the USDA was only notified of the illnesses in July, according to Dan Engeljohn of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. He said investigators had a difficult time pinpointing the source of the salmonella.

No recall is in effect and the salmonella infections were caused by eating chicken that was undercooked or improperly handled, a spokesman for Foster Farms told the AP.

The three facilities that packaged the chicken associated with the outbreak were all in California’s Central Valley, one in Livingston and two in Fresno. The USDA had not directly connected the outbreak to a specific product or production period. Suspect packages of chicken would have USDA marks P6137, P6137A and P7632.

California health officials said no recall was planned, but reminded consumers that chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

“This is the important public health issue,” Anita Gore, spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health, told the AP. “Chicken can carry bacteria, and chicken needs to be fully cooked.”

She added that people must thoroughly wash their hands after handling raw meat.

Anyone who believes they were infected by salmonella and has symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal cramps should contact a doctor immediately, Gore told the AP.


Turkey Hill Ice Cream Recalled

Some types of Turkey Hill ice cream sold at stores in certain states are being recalled because they might contain metal shavings.

The voluntary recall is limited to products sold at certain Turkey Hill Minit Markets in Pennsylvania, some Wal-Mart stores in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and other small grocery and convenience stores in Pennsylvania and Maryland, CBS News reported.

The recall covers:

  • 1 pint Turkey Hill Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Premium Ice Cream; UPC Code:0-20735-42005-8; Sell By Date: 10/04/2014 42-092
  • 1.5 quart Turkey Hill Fudge Ripple Premium Ice Cream; UPC Code: 0-20735-11011-9; Sell By Date: 09/30/2014 42-092
  • 1 pint Turkey Hill Moose Tracks Stuff’d Frozen Dairy Dessert; UPC Code: 0-20735-42025-6; Sell By Date: 09/27/2014 42-092.

The products would have been purchased by Oct. 1, 2013. No illnesses have been reported, according to the Conestoga, Pa.-based company, CBS News reported.

Customers can return the recalled products to the place of purchase for a refund, or contact Turkey Hill at 1-800-693-2479.


W. Virginia Has Highest Rate of Fatal Drug Overdoses: Report

West Virginia has the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the United States, followed by New Mexico and Kentucky, according to a new report.

In 2010, the rate in West Virginia was 28.9 overdose deaths per 100,000 people, which is more than six times higher than the 1999 rate of 4.1 per 100,000 people. Most of the deaths in 2010 were the result of prescription drug abuse, the Associated Press reported.

The overdose death rate was 23.8 per 100,000 in New Mexico and 23.6 per 100,000 in Kentucky, according to the report released Monday by the Trust for America’s Health.

It also said that prescription drug overdose deaths in the U.S. now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and that in 29 states, more people die from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle crashes, according to the AP.

Only 1 in 10 Americans with a drug problem receives treatment, the report noted.

“The rapid rise of abuse requires nothing short of a full-scale response — starting with prevention and education all the way through to expanding and modernizing treatment,” Jeffrey Levi, the trust’s executive director, said in a statement, the AP reported.

“There are many promising signs that we can turn this around, but it requires urgent action,” Levi added.

He said abuse of prescription painkillers alone is costing the country about $53.4 billion in criminal justice and medical expenses, as well as lost productivity, the AP reported.

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