(NEXSTAR) — The CDC is investigating a new salmonella outbreak that has led to multiple hospitalizations.
In an alert issued Tuesday, the agency said at least 16 people have fallen ill — and six required hospitalization — as part of the salmonella outbreak. Illnesses linked to this investigation were first reported in late April, and the most recent was in mid-June.
While investigators are still reviewing the incidents, they say nine patients reported eating ground beef before falling ill. Those who remembered the ground beef they purchased identified it as 80% lean beef purchased at ShopRite locations in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.
Among the 16 people who became ill, nine live in New Jersey. Five are from New York, and Connecticut and Massachusetts have each confirmed one case of salmonella that was linked to this outbreak. The CDC warns there could be more sick people, in these states or others, who recovered without medical care and are therefore not tested for salmonella. For those who are tested, it can take up to a month to determine whether they are linked to this specific outbreak.
As many as three of those who became ill are under the age of 5, the CDC shows. The oldest patient was 97 years old.
Ground beef, a known source of salmonella, is the only common food people reported eating, the CDC says.
In a statement shared with Nexstar on Wednesday, ShopRite parent company Wakefern said ground beef available at its stores “is likely not impacted based on current epidemiological data.”
“The CDC’s investigation is ongoing and the USDA has not recommended a recall,” the statement added.
Since 2016, there have been several large outbreaks of salmonella linked to ground beef.
To avoid becoming ill, the CDC not only warns against eating raw ground beef, but also encourages cooking the beef until it has an internal temperature of 160°F. It’s also important to wash surfaces and utensils that come in contact with raw ground beef, and to keep them separate from foods that won’t be cooked.
Salmonella infections are commonly associated with diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, according to the CDC. Symptoms can begin between six hours and six days after you’ve ingested the bacteria. Most people are able to recover without receiving treatment within four to seven days.
Illnesses may be more severe for young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Some may require medical treatment or hospitalization, the CDC explains.
Infections can only be diagnosed with a laboratory test of a person’s stool, body tissue, or fluids. Every year, salmonella causes roughly 1.35 million illnesses and 420 deaths. Other recent salmonella outbreaks have been linked to raw cookie dough, alfalfa sprouts, raw salmon, and bearded dragons – all CDC investigations into these outbreaks have been closed.