A food safety alert has been issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over an outbreak of salmonella linked to fresh papayas imported from Mexico. According to the alert: “Epidemiologic evidence and early product distribution information indicate that whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico and sold in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island are a likely source of this outbreak.”
So far, 62 cases of salmonella infection have been linked to papayas contaminated with a type of bacteria called Salmonella uganda. Of those sickened, 24 were in New York, 14 were in Connecticut, and 12 were in New Jersey. The outbreak has resulted in 23 hospitalizations, but there have not been any linked deaths. The cases have occurred from January 14 to June 8 of this year, with most of the cases occurring since April.
Most people who get sick from salmonella develop symptoms within three days. Those symptoms generally include diarrhea, a fever, and abdominal cramps. Many recover without treatment in about four to seven days, but in severe cases, complications develop that require hospitalization. For example, if the infection spreads from the intestines into the bloodstream, it can be fatal if the patient does not receive treatment with antibiotics swiftly.
Salmonella bacteria sickens 1.2 million people in the U.S. every year. Food is the source for about 1 million of those illnesses. Infections with salmonella can come from eating eggs, dairy, poultry, meat, fruits, vegetables, spices, and nuts, among other things. Children, especially those under 5, are at the highest risk for infection.
The CDC says that consumers should throw the papayas away. If you aren’t sure the papaya you bought is from Mexico, don’t eat it, throw it out. You should also throw away fruit salads or other mixes that include papayas from Mexico. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising food service providers, importers, suppliers, and distributors across all states to halt sales of whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico.