Health Alert for Ethiopians in Seattle
Salmonella illnesses reported locally among people of Ethiopian origin
By Seattle & King County Press Release
August 2, 2014



Raw meat
Eating raw meat poses a risk to health
Local health officials are currently investigating over 20 illnesses caused by Salmonella, mostly among people of Ethiopian origin that reside in King County and neighboring counties. Salmonella is a bacteria that can be spread through food; it typically causes diarrhea, but sometimes causes serious illness.

No specific source has been confirmed at this time, but experts are concerned that the illnesses may be caused by raw or undercooked beef contaminated with Salmonella. Beef products that are consumed raw or undercooked in the Ethiopian community include Kitfo, Gored Gored, Tera Sega, Delot, Leb Leb and Kuanta.

An investigation is ongoing to pinpoint the cause of the Salmonella infections. Until more is known, health officials encourage the community to follow safe food practices to reduce the risk of illness:

  • Avoid consuming raw beef, especially for people at highest risk of severe illness, including children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

  • If you have previously purchased raw beef and have it in your possession, make sure it is cooked thoroughly before consuming.

  • Avoid contaminating ready-to-eat foods (such as raw vegetables and fruits) with raw beef by washing hands frequently; and wash, rinse and sanitize equipment that was used for handling raw beef.

  • Keep raw beef cold in a refrigerator at five degrees Celsius (41F°) or lower during transportation and storage.

  • Avoid purchasing raw beef from “Kircha” and/or unapproved sources. Community practices such as “Kircha” (i.e., sharing a whole carcass among a group of people) may contribute to foodborne illness.

If you experience foodborne illness symptoms, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting or fever, contact your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, contact the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 for help finding low cost health services.

As more information about the source of the illness is known, health officials will provide updates to the community.

More information about Salmonella is available on the Public Health – Seattle & King County website at www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/communicable/diseases/Salmonella.aspx


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