A Salmonella outbreak linked to imported cucumbers has sickened 285 people in 27 states. Fifty three people have been hospitalized, one person in California died.
A recall has been issued for the cucumbers, grown in Baja, Mexico and supplied by Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego, California.
Those sickened ate cucumbers purchased from grocery stores and in meals ordered from restaurants. Grocery stores doing business with Andrew and Williamson include Fresh and Easy, Costco, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, HEB, Albertsons, United, Sam’s Club, and Save Mart. Restaurant customers of Andrew and Williamson include Olive Garden, Red Lobster, The Capital Grille and In-N-Out Burger. We don’t know if the cucumbers were sold from all of those venues.
The 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 typically 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 have been linked to restaurants. In Minnesota, at least 10 people ate the contaminated cucumbers at five Red Lobster locations, according to the state health department.
“Red Lobster pulled cucumbers from all of its restaurants on Sept. 4 even though a large majority of cases nationally were not exposed at a Red Lobster restaurant. The restaurant chain has been a vital partner in the Minnesota investigation and has played an important role in helping to solve the national outbreak. Confirmed cases in other states involved grocery stores, retailers and other restaurants,” the Minnesota Department of Health said in a statement.
Nationwide, the recalled cucumbers were distributed in the following states: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.
Traceback investigations from illness clusters identified cucumbers from Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility as a likely source. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency performed testing on cucumbers collected from Andrew & Williamson’s and isolated Salmonella from cucumbers. Genetic “fingerprint” testing is being done to see if the Salmonella strain matches the fingerprint of the strain collected form those who became ill. Health officials say they will make those results available when they are ready.
The illnesses were reported from July 3, 2015 to August 26, 2015. Most of those sickened, 54 percent, are children 18 and younger.
By state, the case count is 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).
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure, include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps lasting four to seven days. In some cases, the diarrhea is so severe that hospitalization is required. For these patients, there is a risk that the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream. This can be fatal if untreated.