Salmonella Kiambu Infections Lined to Papaya Cause Food Poisoning Illnesses for 47, Including 1 Death

At least one person has died, 12 people have been hospitalized, and dozens sickened in a multistate salmonella food poisoning outbreak linked to papayas, according to new warnings issued by federal health officials. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a Salmonella Kiambu outbreak last week, indicating that at least 47 illnesses have been identified in 12 different states. Although it is believed that contaminated maradol papayas are the cause of the outbreak, the CDC’s investigation is still ongoing to determine the exact source.

The CDC has released a warning urging retailers and restaurants to discontinue serving or selling papayas, and for the public in general to stop consuming the products, until the source of the outbreak is determined.

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In recent months, the CDC has received illness involving hospitalizations among individuals infected with Salmonella Kiambu, which is strain of the foodborne infection Salmonella that can cause serious or fatal health consequences to those with weakened immune systems such as the elderly, children or pregnant women.

After recognizing the increased amount of reported illnesses, the CDC began tracking reports across the nation using their PulseNet system to identify similar reports that could be associated with a spreading outbreak. Officials from the agency began collaborating with state and local officials to perform epidemiological and trace back investigations to determine any common product consumed.

After interviewing patients, 44 percent of individuals interviewed reported eating papayas from either local grocery stores or restaurants. Officials identified a cluster of outbreaks in Maryland, in which several unrelated or unknown associations, reported consuming papayas purchased from the same grocery store shortly before becoming ill.

The CDC collected several papaya samples from the Maryland grocery store for testing and determined the products contained both Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson. Furthermore, the CDC determined the strains of Salmonella collected from the store were of similar strains of infection found in individuals diagnosed with the illness.

Officials have received Salmonella illness reports from the following states; Iowa (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Maryland (5), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), New Jersey (12), New York (13 including a fatality), Pennsylvania (4), Texas (1), Utah (1), and Virginia (6).

Salmonella infections can cause mild to severe health consequences, depending upon the individual. The bacteria may cause a healthy person to experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain whereas the young or elderly with weakened immune systems may face more severe consequences, including fatal infections.

In some reported cases, Salmonella infections in pregnant women have been known to cause still births and miscarriages. Occasionally, salmonella infections may travel through the bloodstream and produce illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis.

The CDC is urging consumers to stop consuming papaya products until the source of contamination is determined to prevent further spread of the outbreak. CDC officials are anticipating more illnesses to be reported due to the two to four-week time period it takes for individuals to be diagnosed and the illness reported.


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