By: Candess Zona-Mendola

A nationwide outbreak of several strains of Salmonella linked to imported Yellow Maradol papayas has reached over 200 confirmed cases, almost 30 more people than reported on August 18, 2017.  Of these, 65 people have been hospitalized. There is one confirmed death linked to the outbreak. The states affected has also increased in number, with a current total of 23 affected states. There are several different types of Salmonella involved in this outbreak, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just added another two farms to the mix.

Case Counts, Quick Facts, and Stats

For a quick at-a-glance reference of the facts and stats of these related outbreaks, we have created several quick lists below.

States Involved, Cases Per State

  • Connecticut (7)
  • Delaware (4)
  • Florida (1)
  • Iowa (2)
  • Illinois (5)
  • Kentucky (4)
  • Louisiana (1)
  • Maryland (9)
  • Massachusetts (8)
  • Michigan (1)
  • Minnesota (4)
  • Missouri (1)
  • North Carolina (6)
  • New Jersey (39)
  • New York (61)
  • Ohio (1)
  • Oklahoma (8)
  • Pennsylvania (8)
  • South Carolina (1)
  • Tennessee (2)
  • Texas (10)
  • Virginia (17), and
  • Wisconsin (1)

Specific Details of Cases

  • 201 confirmed cases
  • One death was reported from New York City
  • Victims’ ages range is less than 1 year to 95, with a median age of 37
  • Of the 196 ill persons interviewed in the main outbreak, 118 are female
  • Of the 158 people interviewed, 65 (or 41%) have been hospitalized
  • The hospitalization rate is almost twice the typical rate in Salmonella outbreaks, which is 22%
  • Illnesses began from May 17, 2017 to August 20, 2017
  • Per the CDC, multiplier for Salmonella infections is 38, so there could be almost 8,000 people sickened in these three outbreaks

What Salmonella Strains Are Involved

  • There are 7 types of Salmonella related to these related outbreaks, including: Salmonella Thompson, Kiambu, Agona, Gaminara, Newport, Infantis, and Urbana
  • The number of people sick by strain are: Salmonella Thompson (131), Salmonella Kiambu (57), Salmonella Agona (8), Salmonella Gaminara (5), Salmonella Newport (2), Salmonella Infantis (1) and Salmonella Urbana (6)
  • These strains have also been found in samples collected from papayas linked to the affected Mexican farms
  • Salmonella Newport and Infantis have been found in samples collected from Caraveo Produce in Tecomán, Mexico

More Farms, Brands Implicated

The initial outbreak of infections was linked to Carica de Campeche, a farm based in Campeche, Mexico. Since the initial information, the CDC has identified two additional farms that have Salmonella outbreaks linked to papayas. These are: Caraveo Produce and El Zapotanito farms based in Tecomán, Mexico and La Huerta, Mexico.

Despite the three identified farms, the investigation is not over yet. There are likely more brands and more farms that will be implicated. The CDC also noted that “illnesses that occurred after August 1, 2017, might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.”

What the CDC is Warning You

The CDC recommends that consumers refrain from eating Maradol papayas from the Carica de Campeche, Caraveo Produce, or El Zapotanito farms in Mexico. To further comment on this, the CDC noted “CDC now recommends that consumers not eat, restaurants not serve, and retailers not sell” papayas from the implicated farms. However, one should be cautious of any papayas of this kind imported from Mexico, as more farms may be added. More consumer warnings may be forthcoming. In the meantime, the CDC commented:

“The FDA is increasing testing of papayas from Mexico as they come into the country. Shipments of papayas that were contaminated were destroyed and not distributed for sale in the U.S. Any past shipments of papayas from the newly identified farms are no longer on the market because they are past their shelf life.”

As there are now three separate outbreaks linked to imported Maradol papayas from different farms in Mexico, CDC is concerned several other farms in Mexico might also have papayas contaminated with Salmonella. There may be more illnesses as well that may be further linked.  FDA is testing papayas from other Mexican farms to see if other papayas are contaminated with Salmonella. According to the FDA’s website:

“The FDA increased testing of papayas from Mexico in an effort to see if fruit from other farms or distributors could be contaminated. If the FDA finds Salmonella in other shipments, the FDA will take appropriate action.

Since 2011, papayas from Mexico have been screened at the border for Salmonella by third-party laboratories, and these shipments have not been allowed to enter the country without documentation of testing demonstrating the products test negative for Salmonella. Farms/companies have been able to request addition onto the “green” list of IA 21-17 when they have had five consecutive shipments test negative for Salmonella. In contrast, farms/companies that want to request removal from the “red” list of IA 99-35 must present substantive documentation demonstrating that they have made corrections to prevent contamination, including, for example, a root cause analysis to identify potential sources and routes of contamination.”

Recalls Initiated; Where are the Others?

Only three brands of Maradol papayas have been recalled: Caribeña brand, distributed by Grande Produce; certain Cavi brand papayas distributed by Agroson’s; and Valery brand papayas, distributed by Freshtex Produce, LLC.

According to the FDA’s recall page:

  • Caribeña brand, distributed between July 10 and 19. The Caribeña brand can be identified by a red, green, and yellow sticker.
  • Cavi brand, distributed to wholesalers in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey from July 16-19 and available to consumers until July 31.The Cavi brand carries a purple, green, and black sticker with the words “cavi MEXICO 4395” in white. Only certain lot codes of Cavi papayas were recalled that were known to come from Carica de Campeche. Boxes provided to wholesalers are stamped with CARICA DE CAMPECHE on the upper left side of the box. Other Cavi papayas, sourced from other farms, are not being recalled.
  • Valery brand, distributed from July 10-13. Valery Maradol papayas have a red, yellow, and green sticker with “Valery” in yellow letters.”

Outbreak & Salmonella

For more information on Salmonella, the outbreaks, and recalls, you can visit us here.