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CDC Announces Updated Salmonella Africana Cucumber Outbreak Information

Posted in Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls,Salmonella on June 6, 2024

As cases counts rise from 141 to 162 and additional information becomes available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announces updated cucumber outbreak information.

The Salmonella Africana outbreak has grown.

Updated Salmonella Africana Cucumber Outbreak Case Counts and Affected States

The CDC’s updated cucumber outbreak data now includes at least 162 cases across 25 states plus the District of Columbia. There are 54 cases serious enough to require hospitalization. No deaths reported.

All 162 linked cases in this updated cucumber outbreak have sample’s whose bacterial isolates are closely related. An indication of a consistent exposure event.

Based on patient interview data, outbreak patient ages range from less than one year old to 92 years of age. The earliest case began showing symptoms on March 10, 2024. Shortly after, more cases began rolling in with a spike in early to mid-April.

Unfortunately, the actual number of people sickened with this outbreak strain is likely much higher than the data reflects. Most people recover from mild Salmonella infections on their own without medical attention. Therefore, their samples are not tested and later connected to the outbreak strain. This leaves missing data from the bigger picture.

Additionally, recent illnesses may not be recorded in this update, as it can take up to four weeks from initially seeking medical treatment to whole genome sequencing linking that closely related bacteria to an active outbreak investigation.

Affected states currently include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Pennsylvania has the greatest number of cases to date with 27. New York, Florida, and Viginia also lead by 19, 18, and 17 cases respectively.

Laboratory Testing Indicated Cucumbers Were Positive for Salmonella Africana Bacteria

Cucumbers were flagged as a possible food linked to this Salmonella Africana outbreak after routine testing conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture found Salmonella bacteria in samples from “several retail locations in the state.” This prompted a recall from the cucumber distributor, Fresh Start Produce Sales, Inc.

More testing is underway to get the specific genetic information from these samples. This is achieved by what is called whole genome sequencing (WGS). This type of testing can easily identify related strains of bacteria, potentially linking them to the same exposure event, or outbreak.

Epidemiological Data Also Points to Cucumbers

Patient interview data is essential in any outbreak investigation. Determining what outbreak patients consumed before falling sick becomes a starting point for the investigation.

Patient findings were consistent enough to consider cucumbers in the initial outbreak investigation. Now, investigators are working to collect additional information to see if other cucumbers could be linked to this outbreak.

The Current Cucumber Recall Due to Salmonella Africana

The current cucumber recall was initiated following Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture sampling. According to the Fresh Start Produce Sales, Inc, recalled cucumber should no longer be on store shelves, as they are “now well beyond their natural 10-12 day shelf life.”

Fresh Start Produce Sales, Inc. indicates that the cucumbers of interest were sourced from “a single Florida farm that is no longer growing, harvesting, or shipping cucumbers.”

These cucumbers were sold in bulk to retail distribution centers, wholesalers, and food service distributors across 14 states. However, they may have been further distributed to additional states or re-packaged for sale in stores.

Affected product was shipped between May 17 and May 21 to the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

This recall does not include mini cucumbers or English cucumber varieties.

Fresh Start Produce Sales, Inc. Is a Produce Shipping and Sales Company

According to the company’s website, “Fresh Start Produce Salesis a produce shipping and sales company specializing in bell peppers, cabbage, squash, cucumbers, sweet corn, and variety peppers.”

The company is not a farm and does not grow the products they sale, rather they partner with farmers to acquire and ship produce from those farms across the country.

Every step of the supply chain is a potential source of contamination. From the farm to the fork, prudence with food safety is important.

From the soil, to the irrigation water, to harvesting equipment, to holding containers, to sorting facilities, to shipping containers, to the retailer, and then to your home – there are so many steps where contamination can fester and spread.

This Updated Salmonella Africana Cucumber Outbreak Data Shows Antibiotic Resistance

According to the CDC, genetic analysis of outbreak strain samples indicates a “predicted resistance to fosfomycin” and other commonly used antibiotics.

In addition to a strong prediction of fosfomycin antibiotic resistance, other patient samples showed resistance to amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, azithromycin, cefoxitin, ceftiofur, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, and/or tetracycline.

What does this mean?

While most people with Salmonella infection do not need antibiotic treatment, those who do will have difficulty treating the infection with the more commonly recommended antibiotics. Their healthcare provider may have to use alternative antibiotic options if possible.

How Do I Know If I Have a Salmonella Infection?

Typical Salmonella infection symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever that can begin anywhere from six hours to six days after exposure. Most people feel better within about a week (around four to seven days).

Anyone can become sick if exposed to Salmonella bacteria. However, some groups are at greater risk of becoming sick if exposed, and experience more severe illness or complications if they become sick.

These include:

  • Children under 5 years old
  • People taking certain medications (such as stomach acid reducers or those that weaken the immune system)
  • Adults over 65 years old
  • People with a weakened immune system.

Symptoms can vary in severity from very mild to potentially life-threatening. Call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 °F
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
  • Signs of dehydration such as:
    • Decreased urination
    • Dry mouth and throat
    • Dizziness upon standing

If You Believe You Are a Part of This Updated Cucumber Outbreak The Lange Law Firm, PLLC Can Help

If you believe you are part of this updated Salmonella Africana cucumber outbreak or have become sick from consuming cucumbers, The Lange Law Firm, PLLC can help. The experienced Salmonella and food poisoning lawyers have helped many families with cases just like yours.

Call (833) 330-3663 for a free consultation and a compassionate member of the team will go over the details of your situation to determine if you have a legal case. You can also click here to email.

By: Heather Van Tassell (contributing writer, non-lawyer)