An outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg has spread to 18 states and has sickened nearly 300, prompting the return of some 30 CDC staffers furloughed during the government shutdown to work on the case.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was the agency that sourced the outbreak to raw chicken products from three Foster Farms facilities in California, although there is no clear indication of which products specifically are affected or the time period in which these products were released, the agency said in a news brief.
The CDC, like many other government agencies, has been operating under “minimal support,” and until Tuesday had only two of 80 foodborne pathogen-analyzing staff on duty, according to a report by ABC News.
But on Tuesday, “about 30 people working on foodborne analysis and outbreak response [were brought back to work], including bringing back about 10 people” who specialize in that area, the agency said in an email to MedPage Today.
I discussed the seriousness of the Salmonella outbreak earlier. And right on cue, the CDC has now declared 30 of its 80 foodborne-pathogen staff to be essential for the continuing function of the government.
Last week they were not necessary and could be furloughed. Now they are essential and have to work. They do not get paid for working until after the shut down is over, so no ability to make house payments or pay bills except out of savings.
Some might call that a form of slavery but at least they will not be charged with a Federal crime if they work.