With 66 reported cases, Arizona has been hardest hit by the deadly 27-state Salmonella outbreak linked to cucumbers imported from Mexico. Grocery stores in Arizona that sold the recalled cucumbers include Walmart, WinCo and Food 4 Less.
Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego issued a recall for the cucumbers on September 5. The recall includes cucumbers sold at the these stores from August 1 through September 3. These stores have removed the recalled cucumbers from all locations. Consumers who have any of these cucumbers at home should not eat them. Those who purchased and consumed them already should monitor themselves for symptoms. See a doctor and mention possible exposure to Salmonella if these symptoms develop. Stool tests can determine if an illness is linked to the outbreak.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure and include fever, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. Typically, these symptoms last between four and seven days.
The recalled cucumbers, known as “slicer” or “American” cucumbers, are dark green in color and between 7 and 10 inches long and between 1.75 inches to 2.5 inches in diameter. At grocery stores, they are usually sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping. Restaurants often slice these cucumbers for use in salads.
Several Salmonella illness clusters in this outbreak have been linked to restaurants. In Minnesota, at least 10 reported cases have been linked to meals at Red Lobster restaurants. The national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen, which underwrites Food Poisoning Bulletin, filed the first lawsuit against Red Lobster on behalf of a client, who is under 18, who ate cucumbers on a salad at Red Lobster. The suit also names Andrew and Williamson A&W Fresh Produce as a defendant.
State and federal health officials are collaborating on the investigation of this outbreak. Investigators from state health and agriculture departments are collecting leftover cucumbers from restaurants and grocery stores to test them for Salmonella. Already the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency has isolated Salmonella from cucumbers collected from Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility.
Of the 285 people sickened so far, 53 three people have been hospitalized. One person in California died.
Most of the people sickened in this outbreak , 54 percent, are children. In Arizona, the percentage is even higher- 75 percent of the cases are children age 17 or younger.
By state, the 285 cases reported so far are as follows: Alaska (8), Arizona (60), Arkansas (6), California (51), Colorado (14), Idaho (8), Illinois (5), Kansas (1), Louisiana (3), Minnesota (12), Missouri (7), Montana (11), Nebraska (2), Nevada (7), New Mexico (15), New York (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (5), Oregon (3), South Carolina (6), Texas (9), Utah (30), Virginia (1), Washington (9), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (3).
The 66 cases were reported from the following counties: 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 serotype of Salmonella in this outbreak, Salmonella Poona, isn’t common in the U.S. In Arizona, for example, just 6 percent of 1,000 Salmonella illnesses reported each year are caused by Salmonella Poona.
Prior to this outbreak, the most recent multistate Salmonella Poona outbreak was linked to contact with small turtles. Between May 2011 and September 2013, 473 people in 43 states were sickened. Seventy precent were children under 10. Health investigators linked the source to a turtle farm in Louisiana.