A Salmonella outbreak linked to imported cucumbers has sickened 73 people in 18 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The cucumbers, imported from Mexico, have also been linked to 14 hospitalizations, said The Los Angeles Times. The CDC said it is collaborating with state health officials to determine if there have been other, unreported, infections.
It is believed that the multi-state Salmonella outbreak originated with Mexican supplier Daniel Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse of Culiacan, Mexico. The potentially tainted Mexican cucumbers were distributed by Tricar Sales Inc. of Rio Rico, Arizona, according to the CDC, said The Los Angels Times.
In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ceased allowing imports from Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse unless they are able to prove that cucumbers are not contaminated with Salmonella, The Los Angeles Times said.
Of the 73 reported illnesses, 28 have been received in California, where the largest concentration of illnesses related to this outbreak is being seen, said The Los Angeles Times. Most people fell ill between January 12 and April 6; the outbreak peaked in early March, said the CDC.
The contaminated cucumbers are no longer available for sale; however, the number of illness could rise. “Due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported, additional ill persons may be identified,” the CDC said in a statement, according to The Los Angeles Times.
By late 2012, the United States had seen food borne illness outbreaks linked to the Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria pathogen, with about 48 million people—one in six Americans—suffering from a food borne illness annually, according to data from the CDC.
About 3,000 deaths are attributed to food borne illnesses each year and 400 are attributed to acute salmonellosis, the infection caused by the Salmonella pathogen. Both drug resistant and nonresistant Salmonella poisoning results in some one million illnesses annually, costing the U.S. $365 million, according to a prior CDC report.
It can take between six and 72 hours from consumption of a contaminated product for the symptoms of salmonellosis to appear. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Additional symptoms include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days. The illness usually lasts four to seven days; however, in some, the organism can invade the bloodstream, becoming so severe that hospitalization is required.
Sometimes, infection with the Salmonella pathogen can result in, and produce more severe or chronic illnesses and can leave sufferers with serious life-long health issues. Salmonellosis can be especially life threatening to those with weakened immune systems, such as infants; the elderly; and persons with compromised immune systems, such as people with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy.