Feds link 2 more Salmonella outbreaks to imported papayas

Increased testing of Maradol papayas sourced from Mexico in the wake of a multistate outbreak has turned up two separate smaller Salmonella outbreaks connected to two more of the country's growers, federal officials announced today.

In an update, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Salmonella samples obtained from shipments from the two other growers match samples from some sick patients. It added that, to its knowledge, there are no papayas from the two additional farms currently on the US market. Fruit shipments that tested positive were never released for sale to US consumers, and earlier products from the growers would be past their shelf life.

All three outbreaks are limited to Maradol papayas, large oval fruits that weigh 3 or more pounds, have green skin that turns yellow when ripe, and have salmon-colored flesh.

Also today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 28 more illnesses have been reported in the main outbreak, which now totals 201 illnesses.

Different strains in 2 small outbreaks

The CDC said the FDA's expanded testing found Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Infantis in an imported sample collected from Caraveo Produce in Tecoman, Mexico. The CDC said it has found three patients in PulseNet, its national subtyping network, who were infected with strains that had the same DNA fingerprint—two with Salmonella Newport and one with Infantis.

The sick people are from Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan. All three reported eating or possibly eating papayas in the week before they became ill.

Also, FDA testing on papayas from El Zapotanito in La Huerta, Mexico, turned up Salmonella Urbana, and the CDC has identified six people in its PulseNet system who were infected with the same Salmonella Urbana DNA fingerprint.

Four patients are from New Jersey, with New York and Pennsylvania each reporting one illness. Of four people with available information, three ate or possibly ate papayas the week before they got sick.

Given that three separate outbreaks have now been tied to Maradol papayas from three different Mexican farms, the CDC said it is worried that papayas from other Mexican farms may be contaminated with Salmonella.

"Investigations are ongoing to determine if additional consumer warnings are needed beyond the advice not to eat papayas from specific farms that is given in this update. Updates will be provided when more information is available," the CDC said today in its update.

The FDA said it has placed an import alert on the two additional growers and continues to investigate if other importers may have gotten papayas from them. It added that it is closely communicating with Mexican food safety officials, who are also conducting their own investigations and follow-up.

Total cases in main outbreak top 200

In the main Salmonella outbreak, first announced on Jul 21 and involving Maradol papayas grown at the Carica de Campeche farm in Tenabo, Mexico, 28 more illnesses from 12 different states were reported, raising the overall number of infections to 201.

Among the newly reported infections, 7 of the people were hospitalized. The number of deaths remained at 1. The latest illness onset appears have occurred in the middle of August.

The CDC said 2 more states have reported cases linked to the outbreak: Florida and South Carolina, bringing the total number of affected states to 23.

The illnesses in the main outbreak involve four different Salmonella subtypes: Thompson, Kiambu, Agona, and Gaminara. In the main outbreak, three Maradol papaya brands, all sourced from the same farm, were recalled: Caribena, Cavi, and Valery.

See also:

Sep 1 CDC outbreak update

Sep 1 FDA outbreak investigation update

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