PARAGOULD (KAIT) - So far more than 470 people in 43 states have gotten sick... At least 90 in the hospital and now 6 reported deaths linked to salmonella food poisoning.
The government is advising everyone to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods made with peanut butter until the source is found.
But what is this bacteria we're dealing with and why is it so dangerous?
Dr. David Quinn, a pathologist for Arkansas Methodist Medical Center says this form of Salmonella can cause serious illness.
"The one in interest causes gastro-interitis, which is a diarrheal illness."
An illness that can lead to death.
"It's typically in people that are in the extremes of age or debilitated from another illness, or immuno-compromise for some reason."
While it can lead to death, Dr. Quinn says it's rare compared to the number of cases.
"There's estimated between 1 and 2 million cases of salmonella a year and only about 500 deaths per year."
If you've eaten peanut butter over the last few days, Quinn says there are symptoms of salmonella poisoning you should look out for.
- diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
- severe abdominal pains
- high fever
- blood in your stool
- signs of dehydration
But how can you protect your family from getting salmonella?
Dr. Quinn says because you can't see it or smell it in your food, you have to be careful.
"The point is you don't know if your food is contaminated."
Besides cutting out all peanut butter snacks for the time being, here are some tips to follow in the kitchen.
- practice safe food handling
- frequent hand washing
- cook your foods thorougly
- wash your vegetables
- pay attention to recalls
If you get salmonella and see your doctor, most times antibiotics won't be issued.
"Most cases of salmonella are self-limiting, usually gone within one to 3 days with full recovery."