The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an update today on the ongoing multistate outbreak of Salmonella Agona linked to the consumption of fresh, whole papayas imported from Mexico by Agromod Produce, Inc. of McAllen, Texas. According to the report:
A total of 99 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agona have been reported from 23 states between January 1 and July 22, 2011. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain is as follows: Arkansas (1), Arizona (3), California (7), Colorado (1), Georgia (8), Illinois (17), Louisiana (2), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (3), Missouri (3), Nebraska (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (3), New York (7), 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 range in age from less than 1 year old to 91 years old, and the median age is 19 years old. Forty-one percent of patients are younger than 5 years old. Sixty percent are female. Eleven persons reported travel to Mexico in the week before they became ill. Ten patients were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
The outbreak began with the first reported cases in January and has continued through mid-July. Texas has been the state most affected by the outbreak, with 25 reported illnesses.
On July 23, 2011, Agromod Produce voluntarily recalled their papayas because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The recall includes all Blondie, Yaya, Mañanita, and Tastylicious Brand papayas sold prior to July 23, 2011. Each Blondie Brand papaya can be identified by a blue and orange sticker label with green and white lettering on the fruit that states Blondie 4395 Mexico. The Yaya Brand Papayas can be identified by a yellow, red, orange, and green label with white, green, and red lettering that reads Yaya Premium Papayas Yaya PLU-4395 Mexico. Each Mañanita Brand Papaya can be identified by a green, yellow, and red sticker label that states Mexico Mañanita 4395. The Tastylicious Brand Papayas can be identified by a white and blue sticker with red and white lettering that states 4395 Tastylicious Mexico. These fresh, whole papayas were imported from Mexico and distributed nationwide and to Canada through retail stores and wholesalers.
Health authorities in both Mexico and the United States are coordinating their investigations to determine the source of the Salmonella bacteria. They also continue to urge consumers to avoid eating the affected papayas as they may still be on the market.
There have been at least two prior outbreak of Salmonella linked to papaya consumption. A large outbreak of food poisoning occurred in September 1996 and involved at least 116 workers at a shipyard in Jurong, China. Salmonella weltevreden was isolated from the stool specimens of 24 hospitalised cases and three food handlers, giving a total of 27 bacteriologically confirmed cases. Between October 2006 and January 2007, an outbreak of 26 cases of Salmonella Litchfield infection occurred in the states of Western Australia and Queensland. Papaya samples were collected from 26 stores in Western Australia, and 9 of 38 samples were contaminated with Salmonella Litchfield.