These 2019 Salmonella Warnings Link Cattle in the U.S. & Mexico to a Deadly Strain of the Bacteria

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Last week, reported on a Dole spinach recall with concerns over salmonella. On Aug. 22, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new, more alarming statement reporting on a deadly strain of salmonella that seems to be infecting cattle in both the United States and Mexico. This 2019 salmonella warning is troubling doctors because patients who are coming in to be treated are not responding to the antibiotics typically used to treat patients with the infection.

According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 255 people in 32 states were infected with this strain from June 2018 to March 2019. Of those numbers, 60 people have been hospitalized and two have died. According to the CDC, salmonella is estimated to cause “1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States every year.” Though the CDC has long noted that some cases of salmonella can be fatal, this particular strain has not been detected prior to 2016. 

The salmonella reports are linked to beef sourced from the U.S. and soft cheese from Mexico. According to the CDC, 43 percent of people who contracted salmonella had recently traveled to Mexico. Symptoms of bacterial infections like salmonella, E. coli, or listeria include diarrhea, fever, nausea, cramps, and vomiting may begin anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Most people can recover from salmonella at home on their own and only visit the hospital for treatment if the infection is severe. 

The CDC reports that the “use of antibiotics in livestock can cause selection of resistant strains” when people consume the meat. It believes the 41 percent increase in antibiotics use (including azithromycin) in cattle from 2016 to 2017 may have contributed to the rise in strains of salmonella that are resistant to antibiotics and can infect humans. 

What Foods to Avoid:

The CDC recommends that people avoid all soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, regardless of where they believe the cheese came from. This includes cheeses like Oaxaca soft cheese and queso fresco. It also recommends purchasing a thermometer to ensure that all beef is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees for ground beef and 145 degrees for whole beef.

If you're looking for a beef swap, flavored and seasoned seitan and soy products might be a great alternative to experiment with while the CDC’s warnings remain active. Ask your local grocery store if it carries seitan and soy meat alternatives. You can read about all the recalls and warnings the CDC has issued recently on its website dedicated to foodborne illnesses. If you’re ever unsure if your beef has been undercooked at a restaurant, don’t hesitate to send it back. With scarier, more antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella, it’s best to be as cautious as possible. 


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