In 2011, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collaborated with public health officials in Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and other states to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Agona infections linked to whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico.

A total of 106 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agona were reported from 25 states between January 1 and August 25, 2011. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain was as follows: Arkansas (1), Arizona (4), California (8), Colorado (1), Georgia (8), Illinois (18), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (2), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (3), Missouri (3), Nebraska (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (3), New York (9), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (2), Tennessee (1), Texas (25), Virginia (2), Washington (5), and Wisconsin (2).

Among persons for whom information is available, illnesses began on or after January 17, 2011. Ill persons ranged in age from less than 1 year old to 91 years old, and the median age was 21 years old. Thirty-nine percent of patients were younger than 5 years old. Fifty-six percent were female. Eleven persons reported travel to Mexico in the week before they became ill. Ten patients were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory investigations conducted by officials in many local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies linked this outbreak to eating fresh, whole papayas imported from Mexico by Agromod Produce, Inc. of McAllen, Texas. Among 56 ill persons for whom information is available, 57% reported consuming papayas in the week before illness onset. This was significantly different compared with results from a survey of healthy persons in which 11% of persons of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity and 3% of non-Hispanic/Latino ethnicity reported consuming papaya in the 7 days before they were interviewed. Product information such as date and location of purchase of papayas was collected from ill persons and used by local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies to conduct traceback investigations. Agromod Produce, Inc. was identified as a common supplier of papayas purchased by ill persons.

Sampling of papayas by FDA as part of the outbreak investigation identified two samples with Salmonella Agona that were indistinguishable by PFGE from the outbreak strain. One sample was collected at Agromod Produce, Inc. in McAllen, Texas and the other was collected at the U.S.-Mexico border from a shipment destined for Agromod Produce, Inc. These papayas had been imported from Mexico. The shipments from which Salmonella was isolated were not distributed in the United States. FDA is working closely with Agromod Produce Inc. and with Mexican health officials to determine how the papayas became contaminated.

On July 23, 2011, Agromod Produce, Inc. of McAllen, Texas recalled fresh, whole papayas because they had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The recall included all Blondie, Yaya, Mañanita, and Tastylicious Brand papayas sold prior to July 23, 2011. These fresh, whole papayas were imported from Mexico and distributed nationwide and to Canada through retail stores and wholesalers.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.