Three persons have died so far as a result of a cucumber salmonella outbreak and more than 558 have been infected with the bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also declared that around 112 hospitalizations have been caused by the disease. The contamination began to spread in the United States after tainted “slicer” or “American” cucumbers were distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego.
The number of infections linked to Salmonella Poona has grown by a third since last week, and it has been reported that the contaminated vegetables were shipped in more states than previously thought.
Initially, it was asserted that 24 states received infected batches, but now the outbreak has reached 33 states. More than a half of the patients who contracted the disease are under the age of 18, CDC has reported.
The cucumbers had been grown at Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. in Baja Mexico, and they were initially imported by Andrew & Williamson. The retail company issued a voluntary recall of all the Limited Edition Pole Grown cucumbers which had been sold between August 1 and September 3.
A similar product recall was also carried out by Custom Produce Sales on September 11, for Fat Boy cucumbers and unlabeled ones. These batches had also originated from Mexican grower Rancho Don Juanito.
So far, the state which has been the most affected is California, where a fifth of the cases have been identified, but 8 other states have reported more than 20 infections. Deaths linked to the outbreak have occurred in Arizona, Texas and California.
The cucumbers can be recognized by the following characteristics: they are dark-green, about 7-10 inches in length, and 1.75-2.5 inches in diameter, and normally they are sold in bulk, without any plastic wrap or packaging.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is advisable not to consume cucumbers of unknown origin, and food service companies have also been warned not to sell or serve such items, when in doubt.
Upon eating Salmonella-infected products, the initial symptoms appear in the first 12 to 72 hours. They usually consist in diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea and fever.
Most patients make a full recovery without treatment, in 4 to 7 days. Usually, cases remain unreported and it has been estimated that although 558 infections have been identified, actually around 17,000 people may have contracted the bacteria.
Some population categories are at risk of developing complications. For instance, children under the age of 5, seniors over 65 and immunodeficient persons may experience severe diarrhea and the infection might spread to their bloodstream.
Without immediate antibiotic care, the mortality risk is heightened. According to health officials, the latest death was a middle-aged woman from Tucson, Arizona, who had other chronic health issues.
Image Source: CDC