Two women have died in the multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Poona linked to cucumbers grown in Mexico. One was from Texas, the other from California. They were among the 341 people in 30 states who have been sickened by contaminated cucumbers.
Both women were in high-risk categories for Salmonella infection which includes children, seniors, those with compromised immune systems and those with serious underlying health conditions. One of the women was 99 years old, the other had underlying health conditions, according to health officials.
The cucumbers in question are called “slicer” or “American” cucumbers. They are dark green, about 7 to 10 inches long, and about 1.75 to 2.5 inches in diameter. In grocery stores they are usually sold in bulk bins with no individual packaging, labeling, or wrapping. Restaurants usually use them in salads.
Health officials used epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations to identify cucumbers from Mexico, distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego as the likely source of this outbreak. Andrew & Williamson issued a recall September 5.
Four state health departments -Arizona, California, Montana, and Nevada, have isolated Salmonella from Andrew & Williamson cucumbers collected from various locations. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services isolated one of the three outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona from a cucumber collected from a retail location.
DNA “fingerprinting” is being conducted to determine the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern of the Salmonella isolated from the cucumbers in Arizona and Montana. DNA “fingerprinting” is still ongoing for the Salmonella isolated from cucumbers collected from the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. Results of additional product testing will be reported when available.
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.
A second produce company, Custom Produce Sales of Parlier, California, issued a recall September 11. A list of locations where they were sold was not provided by health officials.
The case count by state is as follows: Alaska (9), Arizona (66), Arkansas (6), California (72), Colorado (14), Hawaii (1), Idaho (8), Illinois (6), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (4), Minnesota (12), Missouri (8), Montana (10), Nebraska (2), Nevada (7), New Mexico (18), New York (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (8), Oregon (8), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (7), Texas (18), Utah (30), Virginia (1), Washington (10), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (3).
Patients range in age from less than 1 year to 99 years, with a median age of 15. Fifty-three percent of those sickened are children under the age of 18. Seventy people have been hospitalized.
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.