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Everything You Need to Know About Protecting Your Kids From Salmonella

In the wake of a recall of more than 200 million eggs, here's what you need to know about keeping your L.O.s safe from salmonella. 

Everything You Need to Know About Protecting Your Kids From Salmonella

When it comes to making breakfast or cookies for your kids, you're likely to treat eggs with special care, as the raw form of the food may contain a type of pathogenic bacteria called Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. (It's the reason that no matter how tempting it may be, we've always been told to avoid eating raw cookie dough.) Now, families in nine states will do well to take even more care with a certain brand of eggs that is being widely recalled. On Friday, April 13, 206,749,248 eggs that were sold in a total of nine states were voluntarily recalled by the Rose Acre Farms (the second-largest egg producer in the U.S.), due to fears of Salmonella Braenderup, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail, or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, according to the FDA. 

The eggs came from a farm in Hyde County, North Carolina, and have been labeled under a number of brands, including Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, the Food Lion store brand, Crystal Farms, Great Value and Sunshine Farms, NPR reports. Some were distributed to restaurants, like Waffle House. And so far, the contaminated eggs have been identified as the culprit behind 22 reported illnesses, according to the recall notice on the FDA's website, which includes a full list of the recalled products.

The affected states include: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Anyone who may have purchased the eggs will do well to check for plant number P-1065 and Julian date ranges of 011 through 102. (The three-digit Julian Code refers to consecutive day of the year, meaning the recalled eggs were packed from Jan. 11 through April 12.)

Of course, if you have these recalled eggs, the FDA is advising against eating them. That's the obvious way to avoid illness, but thankfully, there are other measures you can take to safeguard yourself and your L.O.s against poisoning, according to Joseph Galati, M.D., CEO of Texas Liver Specialists and Medical Director for the Center of Liver Disease and Transplantation at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.

"For years, we’ve known that salmonella infection is associated with handling raw or lightly cooked eggs," Dr. Galati explains to Parents.com. "They need to be refrigerated at 40°F or colder at all times. Never buy or use cracked or dirty eggs. In most instances, well-cooked eggs, or dishes that have cooked eggs in it, will kill the salmonella and avoid infection. Equally important, is making sure that you wash your hands anytime you come in contact with raw eggs, and this includes utensils and cutting boards. Hot soapy water should do the job."

He also emphasizes how important it is to avoid eating or drinking foods that contain raw or unpasteurized eggs. "Throwing a raw egg into a smoothie, for example, is not a very good idea," Dr. Galati notes. Similarly, it's best not to let kiddos to lick the beater of raw cookie or cake batter.   

According to a report on the recall from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), consumers who purchased the eggs should wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where recalled eggs were stored. They also echo Dr. Galati by saying that "this outbreak serves as a reminder to handle and cook eggs safely to avoid illness. Eggs should be cooked until both the yolk and white are firm."

Kids will also do well to take particular precautions when playing with pets. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises, "Hands should always be washed after playing with pets, especially lizards and pet turtles," as the bacteria can live in pets' intestinal tracts. The AAP warns, "If your child has a problem with her immune system, you should avoid reptiles used as pets, such as lizards and snakes."

Finally, even if certain precautions have been taken, you'll do well to keep an eye out for certain side effects of infection. The CDC notes that "people get sick from Salmonella 12 to 72 hours after swallowing the germ and experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe."

Dr. Galati elaborates, "Infection from salmonella can last for seven days and you may not need antibiotics. Diarrhea can result in dehydration, which may be a serious problem for children or older adults. Fever greater than 101.5, or diarrhea lasting for more than 2 to 3 days would be an indication to see the doctor. Anytime you have bloody stool you need to contact your physician immediately."

With hope, awareness around this particular outbreak—and guarding against infection in the future—will help more families keep their kids safe from salmonella.