According to the Washington State Department of Health, at least 18 resident are sick with Salmonella Poona infections linked to cucumbers imported from Mexico by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce. Nationwide, at least 558 people are sick in this outbreak.
The eighteen people sick in Washington live in these counties: Clark (3), King (5), Kitsap (2), Pierce (3), Snohomish (3), Thurston (1) and Yakima (1). None of those patients were hospitalized. State health officials are working with the CDC and FDA on this investigation.
The case count by state as of September 11, 2015 is: Alaska (12), Arizona (95), Arkansas (8), California (120), Colorado (17), Hawaii (1), Idaho (20), Illinois (8), Indiana (2), Iowa (1), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (4), Minnesota (29), Missouri (9), Montana (14), Nebraska (5), Nevada (11), New Mexico (27), New York (5), North Dakota (3), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (17), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (1), Texas (24), Utah (46), Virginia (1), Washington (18), Wisconsin (29), and Wyoming (4). Illnesses started on July 3, 2015 and have continued to September 11, 2015. More illnesses will probably be reported since it can take a few weeks for lab work and for doctors to inform public health officials about their patients.
The California Department of Public Health identified Andrew & Williamson as the supplier of the contaminated cucumbers. They were shipped to Washington state and distributed to grocery stores and perhaps some restaurants. We don’t know exactly where the cucumbers were sold, since a distribution list has never been issued. Those lists include the names of the stores, along with the addresses, and restaurants that received the product.
The cucumbers have been recalled by Andrew & Williamson. Custom Produce Sales also recalled their Fat Boy Brand and unlabeled cucumbers for possible Salmonella contamination. They are called “slicer” or “American” cucumbers, and are about 7 to 10″ long. They are dark green and about 2″ in diameter. The cucumbers were imported from Baja California in Mexico.
The cucumbers are often sold unlabeled in bulk bins. They were also sold in salads at Red Lobster stores in some states around the country.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, muscle aches, chills, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody, and headache. The symptoms usually being six hours to three days after exposure to the bacteria. Most people do recover within about a week without attention from a doctor, but some become so ill they need to be hospitalized.
The hospitalization rate in this outbreak is 29%, which is 9% high than is typical in Salmonella infections. This is most likely because most of the patients in this outbreak are children under the age of 18. Children are more susceptible to complications from bacterial infections because their immune systems are still developing.
If you have been sick with the symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning and have eaten cucumbers, either purchased in a store or at a restaurant, since July 2015, see your doctor. The long term consequences of this type of infection can be serious, even if you recover completely. People can develop Reiter’s Syndrome, which causes eye irritation and reactive arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and heart problems later in life.