Outbreak Investigation of Salmonella Uganda Potentially Linked to Whole, Fresh Papayas

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of 62 Salmonella Uganda illnesses potentially linked to whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico.  These illnesses have been reported in eight states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas.

The FDA is increasing import screening for whole, fresh papayas and will continue to investigate the cause and source of the outbreak as well as the distribution of products. Preliminary analysis of product import records indicates that the whole, fresh papayas that made people sick in this outbreak were from Mexico. As this outbreak investigation continues, the FDA will work with our Mexican food safety regulatory counterparts to better define this outbreak. Additionally, the FDA will update this advisory as more information becomes available.

Recommendations

For Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers in Specific States:

CDC is advising that consumers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island not eat any whole, fresh papayas from Mexico, and should throw them away. Retailers, restaurants, and other food service providers in those states should not serve or sell whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico, until more is known about this outbreak. Of the 62 illnesses, 60 have been reported in six states in the Northeast. One patient from Florida who was reported ill had traveled to Connecticut before becoming ill. Another patient from Texas was also reported ill, and at this time additional information about this patient is being collected. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

For Restaurants, Retailers, Importers, Suppliers, and Distributors in All States:

 The FDA strongly advises importers, suppliers, and distributors, as well as restaurants, retailers, and other food service providers from all states to hold whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico. This hold is intended to prevent or limit further distribution of potentially contaminated papayas that may already be in the supply chain until more information on the potential source of papayas linked to the outbreak becomes available. Any product that is held beyond expiration date should be discarded.

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Case Counts

Total Illnesses: 62
Hospitalizations: 23
Deaths: 0
Last illness onset: June 8, 2019
States with Cases: CT (14), FL (1), MA (5), NJ (12), NY (24), PA (4), RI (1), TX (1)

What Products are Recalled?

There are no recalled products at this time. The FDA will update this advisory, including any recalled products, as more information becomes available.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness and fever called salmonellosis. Most people infected with Salmonella will begin to develop symptoms 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness, salmonellosis, usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

Most people with salmonellosis develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. More severe cases of salmonellosis may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases may become fatal.

Children younger than five, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe salmonellosis infections.

General Food Safety Tips for Restaurants and Retailers

In the event that restaurants, retailers and/or other food service operators are found to have handled potentially contaminated food in their facilities, they should:

  • Contact their local health department and communicate to their customers regarding possible exposure to a pathogen.
  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wash and sanitize display cases and surfaces used to potentially store, serve, or prepare potentially contaminated foods.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Conduct regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of cutting boards and utensils used in processing to help minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination. 

Consumers can also submit a voluntarily report, a complaint, or adverse event (illness or serious allergic reaction) related to a food product.

General Food Safety Tips for Consumers

  • People should consult their healthcare provider if they suspect that they have developed symptoms that resemble a Salmonella infection.
  • Consumers should follow these steps for preventing foodborne illness:
    • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
    • Wash and sanitize surfaces used to serve or store potentially contaminated products.
    • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
    • People with pets should take special care to avoid cross-contamination when preparing their pet’s food. Be sure to pick up and thoroughly wash food dishes as soon as pets are done eating, and prevent children, the elderly, and any other people with weak immune systems from handling or being exposed to the food or pets that have eaten potentially contaminated food.
  • Consumers can also submit a voluntarily report, a complaint, or adverse event (illness or serious allergic reaction) related to a food product.

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