Nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to imported cucumbers

SAN DIEGO (AP/WPRI) — A Texas woman has become the second person to die in a nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to tainted cucumbers sold by a California company, health officials reported Wednesday.

The woman, who already had other serious health issues, died in late August and medical records indicate that salmonella was a “contributing factor,” said Carrier Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

A 99-year-old San Diego woman died Aug. 17, California health officials reported.

Symptoms of salmonella include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Illness typically lasts four to seven days, but infections can be severe and sometimes fatal. Children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of having severe symptoms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that there have been 341 reported cases of salmonella in 30 states since July 3. Seventy people have been hospitalized.

The cucumbers were distributed nationwide, however the closest state to New England where they’ve been detected is New York.

“We watch recalls every single day, and if products came to New York, Massachusetts or Connecticut we always look to make sure it’s not here,” said Ernie Julian, Director of Food Protection at the Rhode Island Department of Health. “It’s the distribution pattern – if it goes into any of those states, it could be distributed here.”

Another concern for health officials is that millions of people who have traveled to the states where the cucumbers were sold may have eaten them and not realized there was a recall.

California had the most illnesses, at 72, followed by Arizona with 66 and Utah with 30.

Health officials in several states have found strains of salmonella in cucumbers grown in Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego.

The company has recalled its “Limited Edition” brand cucumbers and has said the health and safety of its customers are its highest priority.

The outbreak also has promoted Overwaitea Food Group, a Canadian grocery store operator, and Safeway to recall some cucumbers and products containing cucumbers from Canadian stores, although no salmonella illnesses linked to cukes have been reported in that country.

Here are the states where salmonella has been reported, with the number of cases in parentheses:

Alaska (9); Arizona (66); Arkansas (6); California (72); Colorado (14); Hawaii (1); Idaho (8); Illinois (6); Kansas (1); Kentucky (1); Louisiana (4); Minnesota (12); Missouri (8); Montana (10); Nebraska (2); Nevada (7); New Mexico (18); New York (4); North Dakota (1); Ohio (2); Oklahoma (8); Oregon (8); Pennsylvania (2); South Carolina (7); Texas (18); Utah (30); Virginia (1); Washington (10); Wisconsin (2); and Wyoming (3).

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