December 8, 2023

California Hard Hit in Deadly Salmonella Papaya Outbreak

California has been hard hit in the fourth deadly Salmonella papaya outbreak.  There are four outbreaks connected to Maradol papayas that were imported from Mexico. This outbreak was announced by the CDC this week. No one living in California has been sickened in the other three outbreaks.

Maradol papayas

This outbreak was caused by Salmonella Anatum. Fourteen people were sickened, including 12 in California. One person in California has died. Five people have been hospitalized in this outbreak, for a 42% hospitalization rate. That is much higher than the typical 22% hospitalization rate in most Salmonella outbreaks. This could be because the bacteria is resistant to antibiotics, the fruit may have been contaminated with a lot of bacteria, or the bacteria was unusually virulent.

This outbreak occurred last spring, but the CDC did not pinpoint the food linked to the illnesses until September 4, 2017, when the FDA found the outbreak strain on an imported papaya. Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 20, 2016 to April 8, 2017.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that Maradol papayas imported by Bravo Produce of San Isidro, California, are the likely source of this outbreak. The papayas were grown  at Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya  de Tecomán y Costa Alegre in Tijuana, Mexico and packed by Frutas Selectas de Tijuana, S. de RL de CV.

Those companies imported and sold more fruit in the state of California during the month of August 2017, and the papayas were recalled on September 10, 2017. They were distributed from August 10 to August 29, 2017. If you purchased recalled Maradol papayas distributed from Bravo Produce Inc. do not eat them. They are marked with a label of the packing company. Throw them away or take them back to the place of purchase for a refund. If you aren’t sure if a papaya you bought was distributed by Bravo Produce, ask your retailer.

In addition, using PulseNet, the CDC has identified six more ill persons with the same strain of Salmonella Anatum. Public health officials are investigating to see if those illnesses are linked to people sickened in this outbreak.

The FDA is testing papayas from Mexican farms, and has placed import holds on fruit imported by four different companies. Pay attention to recall notices, because more of the papayas may be recalled.

The law firm of Pritzker Hageman helps people sickened by contaminated food such as these recalled papayas protect their legal rights, and get compensation and justice. Our lawyers represent patients and the families of children sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against growers, importers, distributors, retailers, food producers, food processors, restaurants, schools, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker recently won $7.5 million for young client whose kidneys failed because of hemolytic uremic syndrome that developed after he suffered an E. coli infection. Class action lawsuits may not be appropriate for outbreak victims because the cases are very unique.

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