By: Candess Zona-Mendola

What began as a small cluster of salmonellosis cases in Baltimore, Maryland has grown to a full-scale nationwide outbreak linked to imported papayas. Today, the CDC, FDA and Maryland Department of Public Health’s testing announcement has indicated that both serotypes of Salmonella (Thompson and Kiambu) were present in a single sampled papaya.

Just this morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its outbreak page on the Salmonella in Papayas Outbreak. The agency has confirmed that the case county has risen to 109 confirmed cases of Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson infections linked to Maradol Papayas imported from Mexico. This update includes 64 more cases than the first announcement on July 21, 2017.

Additional states have also been linked to the outbreak. These include: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. Below is a map of all of the states affected in this outbreak:

The breakdown of illnesses is as follows:

State

Case Count
Connecticut 4
Delaware 1
Iowa 2
Kentucky 2
Louisiana 1
Maryland 6
Massachusetts 3
Michigan 1
Minnesota 4
North Carolina 2
New Jersey 26
New York 36
Oklahoma 2
Pennsylvania 7
Virginia 11
Wisconsin 1
Total 109

 

The CDC’s update yielded even more information about the cases linked. The page confirms that the additional sub-outbreak of Salmonella Thompson cases were confirmed to be part of the original outbreak.

The illnesses currently linked to this outbreak reported that their infections occurred as early as May 17, 2017 and as late as July 22, 2017.  It is likely that more illnesses may be linked, especially until such time as all of the retailers and brands relating to the affected papayas is made known. The outbreak as also affected those of varying ages, as young as one year old to 95 years old. The age of the victim who died has not been released.

The investigations of the CDC and Food and Drug Administration are still ongoing. Further, as papayas are popular in Mexican cuisine and Spanish dishes, a Spanish outbreak page has been launched here.

Farm Found, Import Alert Issued

The FDA also updated its recall page today, citing that they also identified Maradol papayas from the Carica de Campeche papaya farm, located in Campeche, MX, as a likely source of the outbreak. Early testing results showed that fruit from this farm was contaminated with several strains of Salmonella, including: Salmonella Kiambu, Salmonella Thompson, Salmonella Agona, Salmonella Senftenberg, and Salmonella Gaminara. These positive results are based on epidemiological and laboratory evidence. Whole Genome Sequencing is pending for these samples. Thus far, Salmonella strains matching the outbreak patterns by PFGE were only isolated from papayas from the Carica de Campeche farm. However, there may be more farms added to the list. There is a likelihood of additional recalls coming.

As a result of the positive testing, FDA has added the Carica de Campeche farm to Import Alert (IA) 99-35 list.

More Brands Linked May Be Announced

The agencies still report that the only formal confirmed brand to the outbreak is Caribeña, with whom its distributor, Grande Produce, issued a limited recall of papaya products on July 26, 2017. The company confirmed that the recalled products were distributed between July 10 and July 19, 2017. The Caribeña brand can be identified by a red, green and yellow sticker shown here.

But this does not mean other brands are in the clear. There may be several other brands who obtain their produce from the Carica de Campeche farm. According to the FDA’s update today:

“The FDA had increased testing of papayas from Mexico in an effort to see if fruit from other farms could be contaminated. If the FDA finds Salmonella in other shipments, those farms will also be added to IA 99-35.”

The FDA also noted that, “FDA traceback and traceforward investigation is still ongoing and additional brands may be identified; the FDA will update its advice as we learn more.”

WARNING: Do Not Eat Maradol Papayas

The CDC and FDA remind everyone to AVOID eating ANY Maradol papayas, as such:

“CDC recommends that consumers not eat, restaurants not serve, and retailers not sell Maradol papayas from Mexico until we learn more.

  • If you aren’t sure if the papaya you bought is a Maradol papaya from Mexico, you can ask the place of purchase. Restaurants and retailers can ask their supplier.
  • When in doubt, don’t eat, sell, or serve them and throw them out.
  • Wash and sanitize countertops as well as drawers or shelves in refrigerators where papayas were stored.”

“The FDA is advising consumers not to eat Maradol papayas from the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico because they are linked to an outbreak of salmonellosis.”

The agencies advise the general public to ask restaurants and retailers whether they use and/or sell Caribeña brand Maradol papayas. They are also encouraged to inquire if these businesses’ distributors receive products imported from the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico.

At this time, CDC and FDA are advising everyone not to eat any Maradol papayas regardless of their origin while the investigations are ongoing. If a Maradol papaya is in someone’s home, they should immediately dispose of it and thoroughly clean any surface it has touched. Handwashing and sanitizing potentially infected surfaces is highly recommended at this time.

How Do I Know If I Have Salmonella?

Salmonella can infect anyone – but young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections. These bacteria can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and fever. For those infected, symptoms usually occur between 12 and 36 hours after exposure. But symptoms may begin as early as 6 hours or as late as 72 hours after exposure. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and last between two and seven days.

The CDC, FDA, and local health agencies (including Maryland) recommend that anyone exhibiting signs or symptoms of a Salmonella infection seek medical attention. If you or a loved one begin to show the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning, it is a good idea to contact a medical professional right away to help reduce the risk of future complications.

As UnsafeFoods continues to follow this outbreak, we encourage anyone exhibiting signs and symptoms of Salmonella to seek medical attention. Salmonella can be diagnosed through a stool sample by your medical provider.