Playing Chicken With The Gvt. Shutdown


When I’m not on the internet, I generally catch the latest news on the car radio, like lots of other folks tied up in California freeway traffic.  Yesterday the question had been raised whether Foster Farms chicken was in some way associated with a salmonella outbreak. The company suggested that improper preparation of the raw chicken was responsible.

Not so.  Now the news reported by USA Today, whom I applaud for picking up this story, says that Foster Farms was also the origin of a salmonella outbreak in 2012 in Oregon and Washington that sickened 134 people in 13 states.

It is reasonable to ask, “What the hell is going on?”

The report nicely answers this question.  It is possible to get totally rid of raw chicken-borne salmonella.  This has been done in several countries in Europe. The necessary measures are well known.  It has simply been decided that it is too expensive to implement them in the United States.

Okay, I got it figured out. Fighting questionable wars around the world has so bankrupted the United States that we can no longer afford to take care of the health of our own people.

But wait.  There’s more.

I have written before about the impending uselessness of antibiotics, and about a statement by the doctor who directs the World Health Organization, who said not long ago that in about two years antibiotics will be totally useless, who said that in about two years it will be possible to die from a scrape to the knee, because no antibiotics will be able to protect it from infection.

I have written before about Dr. Jeanne Orfila, beloved professor of microbiology at my Alma Mater, the University of Amiens School of Medicine, the Jules Verne Faculty of Medicine, where she taught us that every time we prescribe an antibiotic, we treat the globe.

Bacteria, microbes like Salmonella, generate resistances, with what seems like a fierce will to survive.  There are so many of them, that if one little bacterium “accidentally” comes up with a sequence that is resistant to an antibiotic, that antibiotic just stops being able to be used on the infection.

This is a salmonella of the Heidelberg strain (please, please, don’t blame the Germans on this one) but it has developed lots of resistances, so it is the toughest to treat, ever.

As of this report, 278 people in 18 states are sick.

But wait, there is even more.

This has happened during our “government shutdown.”

Our American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) generally use “Pulsenet,” a national network of public health laboratories, to track (and hopefully defeat) this sort of outbreak.  The network, and seven people of a staff of eight, were let go because of the shutdown.

Somebody, mercifully, spotted the threat to the health and safety of this nation and brought them back, seven people and Pulsenet.

There are apparently seven strains of salmonella Heidelberg which makes this an extremely complex outbreak.  This means lots of resistance to antibiotics, patients afflicted will need a variety of different antibiotics, and doctors are going to have a very difficult time treating these folks.

No official recall of the chicken has happened.  NOW is when I start to fault Foster Farms.

People who have purchased Foster Farms chicken can tell if it comes from one of the salmonella-infected plants by seeing if their package has one of these three identifiers:

P6137, P6137A and P7632.

Throw Out.  Do Not Eat.

To me it is patently obvious that the U.S.A. does not value the health of its citizens as much as any European countries that have successfully done what it took to eradicate salmonella poisoning from chicken.

We are so broke from fighting needless wars that we have not done the necessary, nor have we done anything to help doctors who are struggling with antibiotic prescription.

In science and medicine at least, I want more value of human health from my country.

I will not sit silent.

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