October 18, 2017

Secret Cucumber Salmonella Outbreak Sickened 275 in 2014

Did you get Salmonella from cucumbers you ate last summer? If so, you may be among the 275 people who were part of a 29-state outbreak that was never announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Until today.

SalmonellaThe outbreak, which occurred between May and September, was one one largest of 2014, only the cyclospora outbreak, which sickened 304 people was bigger. One fatality was reported.

It isn’t clear from the CDC’s report if any people were hospitalized or why the agency was mum about the outbreak which lasted four months.

Interviews with some of those sickened revealed that travel to the Delmarva region during the incubation period was commonly reported. And results from whole genome sequencing (WGS) show that outbreak strain, Salmonella Newport JJPX01.0061 is novel to the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) region of the country. And that could be key to preventing future outbreaks.

A traceback investigation from one cluster of illnesses identified a common grower on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in the Delmarva region. Farm records indicated that poultry manure was applied approximately 120 days before harvest. The manure was not available for testing, and samples from the farm, taken months after harvest, did not test positive for Salmonella.

The 275 people were from 29 states and the District of Columbia. Sixty six percent of case patients, who ranged in age from less than 1 year old to 90 years old, were female. The median age was 42.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will conduct additional assessments in the Delmarva region before the 2015 planting season.

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