There’s a Major Foodborne Illness Outbreak and the Government’s Shut Down - Wired Science
Late-breaking news, and I’ll update as I find out more: While the government is shut down, with food-safety personnel and disease detectives sent home and forbidden to work, a major foodborne-illness outbreak has begun. This evening, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture announced that “an estimated 278 illnesses … reported in 18 states” have been caused by chicken contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg and possibly produced by the firm Foster Farms.
“FSIS is unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period,” the agency said in an emailed alert. “The outbreak is continuing.”
(Updates to this post are at the bottom.)
This is the exact situation that CDC and other about-to-be-furloughed federal personnel warned about last week. As a reminder, a CDC staffer told me at the time:
I know that we will not be conducting multi-state outbreak investigations. States may continue to find outbreaks, but we won’t be doing the cross-state consultation and laboratory work to link outbreaks that might cross state borders.