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Dozens Sickened With Salmonella After Eating Papayas

JUL 01, 2019 | MICHAELA FLEMING
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning consumers in several states to dispose of whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico following the detection of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Uganda.

As of June 26, 2019, 62 individuals have been infected with the outbreak strain across 8 states. Whole genome sequencing analysis of 40 isolates predicted resistance to both streptomycin and sulfisoxazole. The CDC notes that this resistance will not affect the choice of antibiotics used to treat most people. Testing of 3 clinical isolates via CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System is currently underway.

Onset of illness dates range from January 14, 2019, to June 8, 2019. There has been an increase in the number of documented cases since April.

The ill individuals range in age from 1 to 86 years, with a median age of 60 years. No deaths have been reported at this time, but of the 35 individuals with available information 23 (66%) have been hospitalized. The CDC also notes that 22 of the 33 individuals have reported being of Hispanic ethnicity.

As part of the epidemiological investigation, health officials interviewed the ill about consumption and exposures in the week prior to falling ill. Of the 21 individuals interviewed, 16 reported eating papayas. Two individuals who lived in separate households in Connecticut fell ill after eating papayas purchased from the same grocery store, providing additional evidence that papayas are the likely source of this outbreak.

The US Food and Drug Administration is working with regulatory officials in several states to collect records to pinpoint the source of the papayas. At this time, early product distribution has identified that the papayas were imported from Mexico, but an exact source has not been identified.

In addition to avoiding whole papayas imported from Mexico, the CDC is advising that consumers do not eat fruit salads or other mixes that contain papayas from Mexico. The FDA advises that importers, suppliers, and distributors work alongside restaurants, retailers, and food service providers to not serve papayas imported from Mexico.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause symptoms that include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours. The illness usually persists for 4 to 7 days and most individuals recover without treatment. Young children, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to complications, which can lead to hospitalization.

Health care providers who are living in areas affected by the outbreak should be cognizant of these symptoms and consider Salmonella as a potential diagnosis if a patient presents with them.

The CDC, FDA and state health officials, continue to investigate the cause and source of the outbreak, and updates will be provided as they become available.

For the most recent case counts and a list of affected states in the Salmonella Uganda outbreak linked with whole, fresh papayas, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
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