June 19, 2024

Arizona Children Hit Hard in Cucumber Salmonella Outbreak

The Salmonella Poona outbreak linked to cucumbers imported from Mexico has sickened 66 people in Arizona; 75%, or 49, are children age 17 or younger. (The CDC has the Arizona case count at 60.) About 35% of cases in that state have been hospitalized. Arizona is one of 27 states that are part of this huge outbreak, which has sickened 285 people in 27 states.

Slicer CucumberThe hospitalization rate in this outbreak is high. Overall, nineteen percent of those sickened have been hospitalized because of their illness; and one person has died. We don’t know if this high hospitalization rate is because the Salmonella bacteria are antibiotic-resistant, or because many of those sickened are children, who typically suffer more complications with food poisoning. The median age in this outbreak is 15. About 32% of children have been hospitalized.

Epidemiologists around the country are working on this outbreak. Other cucumber suppliers are under investigation.

The 66 cases live in Apache (1), Coconino (2), Maricopa (49), Pima (10), Pinal (2), and Yuma (2) counties. All of the illnesses are confirmed by the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory.

The cucumbers were imported from Baja, Mexico by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego, California. They voluntarily recalled the cucumbers, identified as “Limited Edition” brand pole grown cucumbers. They are grown and packed by Rancho Don Juanito in Mexico. The cucumbers are thick skinned, dark green, and about 7 to 10 inches long. They are typically sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping.  English cucumbers (the kind usually wrapped in plastic), Persian cucumbers (the mini kind that look like pickles), and domestically grown cucumbers are not associated with this outbreak.

The cucumbers were sold to restaurants, particularly Red Lobster, and were also sold at supermarkets around the country. If you purchased long “slicer” or “American” cucumbers from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015, check with your retailer to see if you purchased the recalled product. These cucumbers are usually not marked with any identifying brand markings or labels.

If you did buy them, and you experienced the symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning, see your doctor. The cucumbers were sold in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, and may have been sold in other states.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, muscle pains, and blood in the stool. The symptoms usually begin six to seventy-two hours after exposure to this pathogenic bacteria. Most people get well on their own in about a week, but some become so ill they need to be hospitalized. The long term complications of this illness can be severe, including arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome, so your doctor should know you have had it.

The serotype of Salmonella in this outbreak, Salmonella Poona, is not often seen in the U.S. Only about 6% of Salmonella illnesses in Arizona each year are caused by Salmonella Poona. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency first isolated the bacteria from cucumbers that were collected at the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility.

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