Widespread Foodborne Illness Outbreak Due To Government Shutdown

   on October 08 2013 10:29 AM
The humble chicken
A salmonella outbreak in 18 states is not being monitored at the federal level because of the government shutdown. Reuters

 

What people feared could happen during the government shutdown may actually be coming to fruition. Since the shutdown was announced Oct. 1, workers at "nonessential" government agencies and offices have been temporarily and involuntary laid off -- including food safety personnel and disease detectives.

Without them on duty, foodborne illnesses can spread, which was one of the biggest concerns about the shutdown. Indeed, there's already a situation that presents a public health threat. As reported by Wired, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that “an estimated 278 illnesses were reported in 18 states” due to chicken contaminated with the bacteria salmonella Heidelberg. But as the outbreak continues to spread, little can be done to prevent or contain it because of the workers' furlough. A staffer from the Centers of Disease Control told Wired, “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.”

For CNN's list of all departments that have been partially or fully closed due to the government shutdown, click here

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