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Salmonella Outbreak Linked with Maradol Papayas Infects Individuals in 12 States

JUL 28, 2017 | KRISTI ROSA
A recent Salmonella outbreak that has sickened several individuals in a total of 12 states has been linked with Maradol papayas imported from Mexico. Health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been working closely with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as local and public health departments to identify new cases associated with the outbreak.

A total of 47 cases of Salmonella Kiambu associated with the outbreak, were reported as of July 27, 2017, as well as 1 associated death in New York City. The CDC is reporting that that 12 individuals have been hospitalized due to related illness.

Each year, Salmonella infections are responsible for about 1 million food-borne illnesses throughout the United States, as well as 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. This is the second time this year that the disease-causing bacteria has made headlines. There are also ongoing multistate outbreaks (10) of human Salmonella infections that have been linked with live poultry in backyard flocks. The case count for this outbreak has reached triple digits: 790.

The time from when an individual has been exposed to Salmonella to confirmation that that individual is part of an outbreak typically ranges from 2 to 4 weeks. The CDC reports that "the illnesses started on dates ranging from May 17, 2017 to June 28, 2017." Those infected range in age from less than 1 year old to 95 years old, with the median age being 27. The majority of those infected (67%) are female.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence enabled health officials to link the multistate outbreak back to Maradol papayas. Outbreak investigators conducted several interviews with those who had fallen ill to see what foods were consumed and if they had any other related exposures. A total of 25 interviews were conducted and 11 of the infected individuals reported consuming papayas.

Furthermore, officials were able to glean more information from an “illness cluster” that sprung up in Maryland. The CDC defines an illness cluster as “2 or more individuals who do not live in the same household who report eating at the same restaurant location, attending a common event, or shopping at the same location of a grocery store in the week before becoming ill.” Several of those fell ill in Maryland reportedly consumed papayas that had been purchased from the same grocery store. Two different strains of Salmonella were identified in isolates that had been taken from the ill individuals: Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson.

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