Public health officials have confirmed that the death of a California resident is tied to a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 77 people since March. The Sacramento Bee reports that the victim, whom authorities declined to identify at the request of relatives, died after apparently becoming poisoned by a strain of salmonella bacteria linked to ground turkey meat, state and county health authorities said.

The familiar Heidelberg strain of the bacteria appears responsible for the recent outbreak.

About half of those who became ill during the current outbreak whom investigators were able to interview said they had consumed ground turkey before they got sick, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A statement issued by the CDC said investigators have sampled turkey from four retail outlets and found contamination by the same Heidelberg strain of bacteria that sickened consumers. The CDC and FSIS have not yet named the retailers that sold the contaminated products or the processor that produced the products. Federal officials said that three or the four tainted samples came from the same manufacturer, and the fourth sample is still under investigation. A USDA spokesman said that there is not yet enough information to issue a recall notice.

The New York Times is reporting that Cargill has been contacted by the USDA and has been asked to provide information as part of the investigation.

“We are cooperating with the agency’s ongoing investigation into the source of the illnesses,” Mike Martin, a Cargill spokesman, said in an e-mail message.

Source: Sacramento Bee, New York Times