July 25, 2017 -- An outbreak of salmonella linked to papayas has sickened at least 141 people in 19 states, federal health officials say.
Maradol papayas, sold under the brand Caribeña from Mexico and distributed by Grande Produce in San Juan, TX, have been linked to Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson. The threat is apparently not limited to Caribeña brand papayas, as officials say other brands could be contaminated as well.
Symptoms from salmonella include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever, which happen 12 to 72 hours after infection. Most people recover from the illness within 4 to 7 days without treatment. Severe infections may require medical care including IV fluids and, sometimes, antibiotics. Young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections.
The infected papayas appear to come only from farms in Mexico. Officials warn not to eat the papayas regardless of their coloring, which can be green before they ripen to yellow. Any suspected papaya should be thrown away.
Federal officials have not identified specific retailers that sell the suspected papayas.
The states with reported cases are Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. New Jersey, New York, and Virginia have the highest reports of illness. The CDC says of the 141 reported cases, 45 people have been hospitalized and one person, in New York City, has died.
The CDC and FDA, along with state and local health officials, are investigating the outbreak.
The agencies recommend not eating the fruit at home or in restaurants that serve it, and they warn retailers not to sell the fruit. The CDC also recommends washing and sanitizing surfaces like countertops and refrigerator shelves or drawers where the papayas were stored. They also recommend washing hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
Anyone who suspects they have contracted salmonella poisoning should talk with their doctor.
People with questions about food safety can call the FDA Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET at 888-SAFEFOOD, or visit the FDA’s website at fda.gov.