The cucumber Salmonella outbreak has grown to include 418 illnesses in 31 states. At least 91 people have been hospitalized and two have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The contaminated cucumbers have been recalled from retail locations. But before September 3, these dark green cucumbers, called “slicer” or “American” cucumbers, which are about 7 to 10 inches long, and about 1.75 to 2.5 inches in diameter, were sold in grocery stores in bulk bins with no individual packaging, labeling, or wrapping. Restaurants also served them.
Health officials used epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations to identify cucumbers from Baja Mexico, distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego as the likely source of this outbreak.
There are three strains of Salmonella Poona 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.
The CDC has tested outbreak strains to see if they respond to or resist antibiotics. All three strains respond to antibiotics, the agency said.
Andrew & Williamson issued a recall September 5. Another recall, by Custom Produce Sales of Parlier, California, was issued September 11. Custom Produce received cucumbers from Andrew & Williamson an sold them under the brand name Fat Boy.
A complete list of stores and restaurants that sold recalled cucumbers was not provided by health officials. But Walmart, Savemart, Food 4 Less, Winco and Ralphs all carried the cucumbers before the recall. Red Lobster also served the cucumbers in salads.
The national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen, which underwrites Food Poisoning Bulletin, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a child who became ill after eating at Red Lobster.
Since the last CDC update on September 9, the outbreak has grown to include 77 more cases and spread to one additional state, Indiana, which is reporting two illnesses. The 77 newly reported cases were reported from the following states: Alaska (1), Arizona (6), California (17), Colorado (2), Idaho (6), Indiana (2), Minnesota (8), Montana (3), Nevada (2), New Mexico (4), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (2), South Carolina (1), Texas (2), Utah (7), Washington (5), Wisconsin (7), and Wyoming (1). This brings the total number of cases reported from all 31 states to: Alaska (10), Arizona (72), Arkansas (6), California (89), Colorado (16), Hawaii (1), Idaho (14), Illinois (6), Indiana (2), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (4), Minnesota (20), Missouri (8), Montana (13), Nebraska (2), Nevada (9), New Mexico (22), New York (4), North Dakota (2), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (10), Oregon (8), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (8), Texas (20), Utah (37), Virginia (1), Washington (15), Wisconsin (9), and Wyoming (4).
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody, a fever, headache, muscle pains, and vomiting. Symptoms usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure, include fever, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. Typically, these symptoms last between four and seven days. In roughly 30 percent of cases, hospitalization is required.
Those sickened reported onset of symptoms from July 3 to September 3. Illnesses that occurred after August 22, may not be recorded yet due to the lag time between onset of illness and diagnosis of infection.
Fifty-three percent of those sickened, who range in age from less than 1 year to 99 years old, are female. The median age is 17. Most of the illnesses, 52 percent, are children younger than 18.