Put down that cucumber and listen up.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona has been affected by a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Poona. As of last week, 66 people in Arizona have fallen ill after eating contaminated cucumbers in six different counties including Apache, Coconino, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, and Yuma. The most recent number from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates nearly 350 people have been affected nationwide.
According to Holly Ward, AHDS communications director, those numbers make this a fairly large-scale outbreak — and the department is still gathering information about the outbreak.
"More tests, more cases could come in and this could grow," Ward says.
So far the outbreak has been tracked to garden variety cucumbers from a single distributor, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego. The company has issued a voluntary recall on all cucumbers sold under the Limited Edition® label from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015. According to ADHS, the cucumbers were grown in Mexico.
The outbreak has not been connected to any Arizona or US-grown cucumbers so far and has not been connected to "long thin wrapped cucumbers (English cucumbers) or the small pickle-shaped cucumbers (Persian cucumbers)," according to AHDS.
In most cases, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them is enough to avoid illness from Salmonella. But Ward cautions that washing cucumbers will not be effective if the vegetables are contaminated from the inside. Since the department hasn't yet figured out if the cucumbers are infected inside or out the outside, Ward recommends consumers not buy cucumbers grown outside of the United States right now. If consumers are unsure where the cucumbers they bought or are considering buying are from, she suggests calling the grocery store.
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"We also say, when in doubt, throw it out," Ward says.
Illness from Salmonella lasts four to seven days, and for most people symptoms are uncomfortable, but not life threatening, and go away without treatment. Of the 66 Arizonans affected as of last week, 75 percent were children 17 and under and around 35 percent of the Arizona cases have been hospitalized for the disease. No deaths have been reported.
In an online statement about the recall, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce CEO Fred Williamson says, “Andrew and Williamson is a family business and the safety and welfare of consumers is part of every business decision we make."
For more information about the outbreak of Salmonella Poona, check the Arizona Department of Health Services website.