WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like a delicious roast turkey.

But nothing could sour the holiday season quite like a case of salmonella, with symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever.

Since last November, the Centers for Disease Control reports 164 illnesses in 35 states from raw turkey, including one death in California.

Seventeen people in Minnesota have been infected, more than any other state in the country.

So far, investigators have found salmonella in ground turkey, raw turkey pet food and live turkeys, but they haven’t found a common source of the bacteria.

With Thanksgiving a week away, health officials are warning people to properly handle and cook their holiday birds.

The CDC recommends cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees before eating, and washing your hands after touching any raw turkey meat.

Hundreds of families will enjoy a bird from Mike’s Butcher Shop in West Saint Paul.

Owner Leslie Carlson says safe cooking starts before you open the oven.

“If you are going to cook a frozen bird, it’s very important that when you thaw it, you either thaw it in your refrigerator, or if you need to quick thaw it, you can do a water method in cold water…change that water out every 30 minutes until your turkey is thawed,” said Carlson.

If you plan on stuffing your turkey, put it in the oven immediately. Don’t let it sit out or put it in the refrigerator.

“That stuffing should go in just before you put your turkey in the oven. (That’s because) the juices can drip down into that stuffing,” said Carlson.

Click here for more food safety tips from the CDC.

Mary McGuire

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