Soon after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a final update for a recent multistate Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen shredded coconut, they announced yet another investigation into a new multistate Salmonella outbreak which has been linked with dried coconut.
The CDC reports that a total of 13 individuals have already fallen ill across 8 different states; 3 of the individuals have required hospitalization.
On March 16, 2018, International Harvest, Inc. of Mount Vernon, New York, announced a recall of over 14,000 pounds of bulk and more than 24,000 bags of Organic Go Smile! Raw Coconut product, due to its potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, a bacteria that is estimated to cause upwards of 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths on an annual basis in the United States alone.
Subsequently, on March 19, 2018, Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Markets, Inc., a natural grocery chain located in Lakewood, Colorado, also issued a recall of Natural Grocers brand 10-ounce Coconut Smiles Organic product.
Illnesses started as far back as September 22, 2017 and have run through February 26, 2018, with those who have fallen ill ranging in age from 1 to 73 years; the majority, or 67%, of infected individuals are female. Whole genome sequencing of bacteria isolated from infected individuals found that the isolates were closely related genetically, which suggests a higher likelihood that the infected individuals share a common source, according to the CDC.
In an effort to identify the source of the outbreak, health officials interviewed 8 of the individuals who fell ill. Seven out of the 8 reported having eaten dried coconut that they purchased at grocery stores. In fact, 4 of the 7 individuals reported purchasing the coconut products at different Natural Grocers store locations.
The investigators collected samples of coconut product from the homes of those who fell ill, Natural Grocers store locations where the individuals purchased their products, as well as the Natural Grocers’ Distribution Center. Testing conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration found the outbreak strain in an unopened sample collected from Natural Grocers as well as the samples collected from the individuals’ homes. They also collected samples from International Harvest, Inc., and the outbreak strain, Salmonella Typhimurium, was identified in those samples as well.
Whole genome sequencing analysis suggested that 10 of the 11 isolates collected from the individuals did not predict resistance to available medications; however, 1 did show resistance genes for ampicillin and azithromycin. Standard antibiotic susceptibility testing analysis found 1 isolate with resistance to streptomycin.
“This resistance is unlikely to affect the choice of antibiotic used to treat most people, but some infections may be difficult to treat with antibiotics usually prescribed and may require a different antibiotic,” according to the report.
This is not the only Salmonella outbreak that has sprung up in the United States recently—a multistate outbreak linked to kratom, an opioid substitute, has caused 87 illnesses throughout 35 states, and another multistate outbreak linked to chicken salad has caused 170 illnesses throughout 7 states.
To stay up-to-date on the most recent case counts associated with the multistate Salmonella outbreak linked to dried coconut, be sure to check out our Outbreak Monitor.