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2 Dead After Cucumber Salmonella Poisoning Grows & Spreads

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Salmonella poisoning is become more widespread because of a cucumber contamination that has left 341 sick, 2 dead, and is being found in many states.

From Yahoo! News:

The outbreak, which was first reported earlier this week, is now more widespread than originally thought.

A Texas woman became the second person to die in the 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.

People in at least 30 states have been infected with Salmonella Poona after eating cucumbers from Mexico that were distributed by San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

The outbreak began in early July and 70 people have reportedly been hospitalized. The CDC first reported the outbreak earlier this week, when it was thought to have infected people in 22 states. Fifty-six more cases have been reported since then.

Andrew & Williamson has voluntarily recalled its “Limited Edition” brand label because it may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The Limited Edition cucumbers (also known as “slicer” or “American” cucumbers) have sickened people in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The CDC says the cucumbers may have been distributed to retailers in other states as well.

(Whole Foods told Associated Press this weekend that it did not carry the recalled cucumbers as originally thought.)

Salmonella Poona isn’t as common as Salmonella Enteritidis, but the symptoms — fever, vomiting, diarrhea — are the same, Benjamin Chapman, PhD, an assistant professor and food-safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, tells Yahoo Health.

“It’s not one that we see every year,” he says, adding that SalmonellaPoonaoutbreaks have also been linked to imported cantaloupes and turtles.

Salmonella (including Salmonella Poona, Enteritidis, and other strains) causes approximately 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to CDC estimates.

Mike Doyle, PhD, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, tells Yahoo Health that contamination usually occurs when the outside of the cucumber comes in contact with fecal matter, usually from contaminated irrigation water or manure.

It’s also possible that the inside of the cucumber could be contaminated, says Chapman, adding that “everything the cucumber comes into contact with, from farm to fork, could lead to contamination.”

While it’s likely that the contamination is on the skin of the cucumber, Chapman says it’s too early to tell with this outbreak. And, he adds, it’s safer to assume that your entire cucumber may be infected.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for consumers to know the brand name of their cucumber since they’re often sold individually and without labeling.

If you’re not sure where your cucumbers originated, Chapman recommends calling and asking the store from which you purchased your cucumbers. But, the CDC says, “when in doubt, don’t eat, sell, or serve them, and throw them out.”

Royce Christyn
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