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Possible Don Julio Mexican Salmonella Outbreak

Posted in Our Blog on June 2, 2021

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates Salmonella bacteria cause about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year. Recently, a possible Salmonella outbreak in North Branch, Minnesota was linked with Mexican-themed restaurant Don Julio. There is not currently any specific information regarding this new outbreak. The investigation in to the matter by the Minnesota Department of Health is ongoing in this Don Julio Mexican Salmonella Outbreak.

Food is the source for most Salmonella outbreaks each year. The bacteria, first discovered in 1885 by American Scientist, Dr. Daniel E. Salmon, naturally live in the intestines of both animals and people. However, after ingesting food or water contaminated with the bacteria, or coming in to contact with infected animals, their food, feces, or environment, people can become sick. Wash your hands people!

Symptoms usually begin six hours to six days after infection and last anywhere from four to seven days. However, some people do not develop symptoms for several weeks after infection and others experience symptoms lasting for several weeks. Most commonly people with Salmonella infection experience symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Some may also experience nausea, vomiting, or headache. Those infected should contact their doctor if they experience more severe symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
  • Bloody stools
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration, such as:
    • Making very little urine
    • Dry mouth and throat
    • Dizziness when standing up

Some strains of the bacteria can cause infection in urine, blood, bones, joints, or the nervous system and cause severe disease. People who are sick with a Salmonella infection should drink extra fluids to prevent dehydration as long as the diarrhea lasts. While most people recover without treatment, antibiotic treatment is recommended for:

  • People with severe illness
  • People with a weakened immune system, such as from HIV infection or chemotherapy treatment
  • Adults older than 50 who have medical problems, such as heart disease
  • Infants (children younger than 12 months).
  • Adults age 65 or older

While most people with diarrhea caused by Salmonella recover completely, some people’s bowel habits may not return to normal for a few months. Others may develop pain in their joints, called reactive arthritis, after the infection has ended. Reactive arthritis can last for months or years and can be difficult to treat. Some people with reactive arthritis also develop irritation of the eyes and pain when urinating.

How can you avoid Salmonella infection?

The CDC recommends these steps to avoid contamination:

Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces

  • Germs that cause food poisoning can survive in many places and spread around your kitchen.
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food and before eating.
  • Wash your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
  • separate meats from vegetables don’t cross contaminate

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate

  • Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.
  • Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • When grocery shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other foods.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the fridge.
  • Cook to the right temperature

Cook: To the right temperature

  • Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is safely cooked by checking its color and texture.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • 145°F for whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
  • 160°F for ground meats, such as beef and pork
  • 165°F for all poultry, including ground chicken and turkey
  • 165°F for leftovers and casseroles
  • 145°F for fresh ham (raw)
  • 145°F for fin fish or cook until flesh is opaque
  • Refrigerate food promptly to avoid food poisoning

Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

  • Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if it’s hotter than 90°F outside).
  • Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and know when to throw food out.
  • Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. (If outdoor temperature is above 90°F, refrigerate within 1 hour.)
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter, because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.

Foods contaminated with Salmonella usually look and smell normal, which is why it is important to know how to prevent infection. We’ve all had enough going on lately without having to worry about getting Salmonella like those who ate at the Minnesota Mexican restaurant. By keeping track of food safety recalls, avoiding contaminated food products, and following the simple food safety guidelines above, you can help to prevent illness of yourself, as well as your friends and loved ones.

By: Michelle Galadik