An Arizona woman from Pima County is the third person to die in the 31-state cucumber Salmonella outbreak. The outbreak, which has sickened 418 people and killed two others, includes 85 cases in Arizona – thirteen more than the CDC reported three days ago. Sixteen of those cases are in Pima County.
Most of the Pima County cases are in older adults and children. Four are adults over 55, nine are children younger than 12. Six Pima County cases have required hospitalization and now, one of them has died. The woman “had serious underlying health conditions and died while being treated for her illness in an area hospital,” the health department said.
“This circumstance is a saddening reminder that illnesses that often don’t cause a high level of harm to most people can have a devastating effect on those in our community that are most medically vulnerable,” said Health Department Director Dr. Francisco Garcia.
The outbreak has been linked to cucumbers produced by Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. l in Baja, Mexico. They were distributed in the U.S. by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego which issued a recall for these dark green cucumbers, called “slicer” or “American” cucumbers, on September 4. A second recall was issued September 11 by Custom Produce Sales of Parlier, California, which received cucumbers from Andrew & Williamson and sold them under the brand name Fat Boy.
Health officials have not released a complete list of stores that sold them or restaurants that served them. But Walmart, Savemart, Food 4 Less, Winco and Ralphs all carried the cucumbers and removed them after the recall. Red Lobster also served the cucumbers in salads.
In Minnesota, at least 1o illnesses in this outbreak have been linked to Red Lobster. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a child who became ill after eating a salad containing contaminated at Red Lobster.
Three strains of Salmonella Poona are associated with this outbreak. Four state health departments – Arizona, California, Montana, and Nevada – have isolated Salmonella from Andrew & Williamson cucumbers collected from various locations. The Nevada, Arizona and Montana health departments have all isolated outbreak strains from cucumbers collected from retail locations. And the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency isolated one of the outbreak strains from cucumbers collected from the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea that may be bloody. The symptoms usually appear within six to 72 hours of exposure and last about a week. Some cases, where the infection travels to the bloodstream, can be life-threatening. “The likelihood and severity of infections from diseases like Salmonella are heightened in young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems due to conditions like heart disease, COPD, HIV, or other illnesses,” according to the Pima County Health Department.
Anyone who ate cucumbers and developed these symptoms should see a doctor and mention possible Salmonella exposure. A stool culture can confirm an infection and determine if you are part of the outbreak.