(RxWiki News) Cucumbers are thought to be behind a salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds across the US in recent weeks.
The cucumbers, distributed by Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce, were grown in Baja, Mexico. Commonly referred to as "slicers" or "American" and sold under the "Limited Edition" brand label, these cucumbers are thought to have sickened at least 341 people as of Sept. 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce recalled the cucumbers in question Sept. 4 after illness reports began to surface. The San Diego-based company said on its website that customers can return affected cucumbers for a full refund.
"The safety and welfare of consumers is the highest priority for our company," wrote Andrew and Williamson President Fred Williamson in a statement on the company website. "We are taking all precautions possible to prevent further consumption of this product and are working to learn if and how these cucumbers are involved in the ongoing outbreak."
Health department tests in several states have confirmed the presence of salmonella poona on the cucumbers in question, the CDC reports.
"Although salmonella is one of the most frequently reported causes of foodborne outbreaks of gastroenteritis worldwide, this particular strain of salmonella, salmonella poona, is relatively rare to cause foodborne illness," according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. "It causes the same illnesses, typically diarrhea, as other subtypes of salmonella."
In addition to sickening more than 300 people, the salmonella cases tied to Andrew and Williamson cucumbers have resulted in 70 hospitalizations and two deaths across 30 states, according to the CDC. So far, the bulk of cases has been reported in California, Arizona and Utah.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is currently investigating this outbreak, reports that common symptoms of salmonella infection are fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea. These symptoms usually appear within one to three days of infection and persist for up to a week. In the very young or old and those with weakened immune systems, however, salmonella can be deadly.
The cucumbers that may pose a salmonella infection risk are most often sold in bulk produce displays without visible packaging, according to the FDA. To find out whether cucumbers are safe to eat, ask the retailer which company supplied them.
"If in doubt about your cucumbers, do not eat them," according to the FDA. "... People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated cucumbers should talk to their health care providers. Contact your health care provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine."