Contaminated turkeys making people sick sounds like a worst-case scenario just before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 150 people have become ill from a turkey-borne strain of salmonella, and at least one person has died. These cases have been reported across the country and the source has yet to be identified. So, what can you do to be safe? And what legal options do you have if you or your family members become seriously ill? 

Serious Symptoms

The symptoms of salmonella typically surface between 12 and 72 hours after exposure. Victims experience severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea, and the resulting dehydration and infection sometimes require a trip to the hospital. These problems are especially prevalent in children, so keep a special eye on the younger members of your household. If they start exhibiting the symptoms, a trip to the doctor is always the safest choice.

In rare cases, salmonella can lead to a condition called reactive arthritis, which develops long after the original symptoms have subsided. This is characterized by joint pain, difficulty urinating and irritation of the eyes. Unlike the initial infection, these symptoms can last for months or even years.

Staying Safe At Thanksgiving

The good news is that salmonella is only a concern if you’re eating food that hasn’t been thoroughly cooked. While this is difficult to be sure of at a restaurant, cooking at home is much more straightforward. Make sure that you cook your turkey sufficiently before serving it. A simple measurement with a meat thermometer in each part of the bird will tell you if you have used enough heat to the kill the bacteria.

Proving Liability

Despite the best preparations, you may get sick anyway. If this happens, you will likely have legal protections for any medical or other expenses you incur. Food poisoning is a type of product liability, so you can bring a personal injury suit in an extreme case. The damages you could recover include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering

For a successful claim, you would have to prove that the food you ate was the source of your salmonella infection and the infection caused you harm. An experienced lawyer is the best resource to properly evaluate any potential case.

With any luck, the source of the contaminated turkeys will be discovered before more people get sick. If you’re committed to your Thanksgiving turkey, remember to observe all food safety protocols even more strictly than usual. It could make the difference between a holiday with family and a holiday with hospital staff.