Cucumbers May Be To Blame For Salmonella Outbreak Across 25 US States

Cucumbers May Be To Blame For Salmonella Outbreak Across 25 US States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that contaminated cucumbers could be the cause of a recent Salmonella outbreak in the US, which has seen people across 25 states become sick.

People first started getting ill back in mid-March, with investigations revealing that they had been infected with a strain of the bacterial nasty known as Salmonella Africana. Since then, a total of 162 cases have been confirmed, with 54 people needing to be hospitalized.

This map shows where in the US cases in the current salmonella outbreak have been reported.

This map shows where in the US cases in the outbreak have been reported.

Image credit: CDC

The CDC, however, has said that the true number of cases is likely to be much higher, as most people recover without medical care and without getting tested. It can also take up to a month to determine if someone is part of an outbreak, or simply an unfortunate isolated case.

When such outbreaks occur, it’s routine for public health officials to investigate the cause. To find the source of the Salmonella, investigators conducted whole-genome sequencing on samples provided by sick people and found that the bacteria within them were closely-related – this suggests everyone probably got sick from the same type of food.

That food appears to be cucumbers (not for the first time). When investigators interviewed 65 of the people who had become ill in the outbreak, 72 percent of them reported eating cucumbers in the week before they got sick. 

On top of that, in Pennsylvania – which has seen the highest number of cases – officials collecting cucumbers from retailers in the state identified Salmonella in one sample, although testing hasn’t yet confirmed if it’s the same strain.

The CDC is now investigating whether the outbreak is linked back to cucumbers sold by Florida company Fresh Start Produce Sales, Inc. Earlier this month, following a recall by the company, the Food and Drug Administration also issued a recall for whole cucumbers shipped to 14 states between May 17 and May 21, after it was discovered that they had been contaminated with Salmonella.

Though it’s expected the recalled cucumbers are no longer on the shelves, the CDC has warned people to check that any cucumbers they’ve purchased are not part of the recall and if unsure, not to eat them.

Salmonella symptoms typically include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, usually starting anywhere from six hours to six days after ingestion of the bacteria. Most people get better within a week, but young children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems can have more severe symptoms. When that’s the case, it’s recommended to contact your healthcare provider.

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.   

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