The Salmonella Poona outbreak linked to cucumbers imported by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce has grown to include 671 people sick in 34 states. Three people have died from their infections, and 131 people have been hospitalized.
Alabama was added to the list of states with ill persons. This is an increase of 113 cases since the last update on September 22, 2015. Now, 51% of ill persons are children younger than the age of 18.
The case count by state is: Alabama (1), Alaska (13), Arizona (112), Arkansas (9), California (164), Colorado (17), Hawaii (1), Idaho (22), Illinois (8), Indiana (2), Iowa (5), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (5), Minnesota (34), Missouri (10), Montana (14), Nebraska (5), Nevada (13), New Mexico (30), New York (5), North Dakota (3), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (19), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (1), Texas (33), Utah (51), Virginia (1), Washington (21), Wisconsin (38), and Wyoming (6). The three people who died lived in Arizona, California, and Texas.
Among those who gave information, illnesses began on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to September 21, 2015. Ill persons range in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 17. Among 459 people who gave information about their conditions, 131, or 29%, reported being hospitalized. That is larger than the usual Salmonella infection hospitalization rate of 20%.
Illnesses are still being reported almost a month after the initial recall issued by Andrew & Williamson. Cucumbers have a shelf life of up to 14 days, so people may have eaten them after September 4, 2015 and then gotten sick. With the delay in lab tests and reporting, there may still be more illnesses reported in the coming weeks.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations have identified cucumbers imported from Baja, Mexico as the likely source of this outbreak. Andrew & Williamson recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand name from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015. On September 11, 2015, Custom Produce Sales voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the Fat Boy label starting August 1, 2015.
We know that the cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. They may have been distributed to other states as well. A recall distribution list has not been published.
We do know that the cucumbers were sold at Red Lobster restaurants in Minnesota; an outbreak there has sickened at least 10 people. We also know that the cucumbers were sold at some Walmart, WinCo, Savemart, Ralphs, and Food 4 Less stores. Restaurants that may have sold the recalled cucumbers include In-N-Out Burger, Capital Grille, and Olive Garden.
The recalled cucumbers are the “slicer” or “American” type that are dark green with large seeds. The length is 7 to 10 inches and the diameter is about 2″. They are usually sold in a bulk display without any individual markings, codes, or plastic wrapping. If you aren’t sure if you purchased any of these cucumbers, ask your retailer.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, chills, muscle aches, and headache. These symptoms usually appear six hours to three days after exposure. If you have eaten cucumbers and experienced these symptoms, see your doctor. The long term consequences of this infection can include reactive arthritis, heart problems, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome.