The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today said the US outbreak of Salmonella illness linked to Mexican Maradol papayas has more than doubled, and another strain of Salmonella has been implicated.
The CDC said health officials in Maryland identified Salmonella Thompson on a Maradol papaya at a grocery store. Lab testing showed that the Salmonella Thompson strain was nearly identical to the bacterium making people ill in that state.
Salmonella Kiambu, the strain identified with the outbreak in the CDC's initial announcement on Jul 21, has also been found on Maradol papayas. Whole-genome sequencing also showed the Kiambu strain from the fruit to be closely linked to the strain isolated from outbreak patients.
Outbreak grows to 109 cases, 16 states
Officials confirmed 62 more cases since the initial update, bringing the total to 109, with 35 hospitalizations and 1 death reported. Hospitalizations increased by 23, but the number of deaths stayed the same. The 35 hospitalized is out of 76 people with available information, for a 46% hospitalization rate.
This week, 6 more states (Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin) reported cases tied to the outbreak, bringing the total number of affected states to 16.
Illness-onset dates range from May 17 to Jul 22. Of the 59 patients who have been interviewed, 28 (47%) reported eating papayas. Among patients, 63% are female, and among 74 people with available information, 68% are Hispanic.
Salmonella bacteria usually cause mild illness in patients, with diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain being the main symptoms. In rare cases, the food borne bacterium can cause severe illness.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers to avoid all Caribena brand Maradol papayas. The FDA took this step after Texas-based Grande Produce, which distributes the brand, issued a limited recall on the fruit.
According to the latest CDC update, the FDA has also identified Maradol papayas from the Carica de Campeche papaya farm in Mexico as a likely source of the outbreak. The agency is working to identify other brands of papayas that may have originated from Carica de Campeche and facilitate recalls.
The FDA tested other papayas imported from Mexico and isolated, in addition to the two outbreak strains, Salmonella Agona, Salmonella Gaminara, and Salmonella Senftenberg.
Maradol papayas are large, oval fruits that weigh 3 or more pounds and have green skin that turns yellow when ripe and salmon-colored flesh. The CDC recommends avoiding and discarding all Maradol papayas at this time.
Aug 4 CDC outbreak update
Jul 24 CIDRAP News story "Papaya-linked Salmonella outbreak sickens 47 in 12 states"