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Marler Blog

Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Salmonella Kiambu Outbreak: Yellow Maradol Papayas

Illnesses in Iowa, 1, Kentucky, 1, Louisiana, 1, Maryland, 5, Massachusetts, 1, Minnesota, 1, New Jersey, 12, New York, 13, Pennsylvania, 4, Texas, 1, Utah, 1 and Virginia, 6.

The CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Kiambu infections.

As of July 21, 2017, 47 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Kiambu have been reported from 12 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page. WGS showed that isolates from people infected with Salmonella Kiambu are closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 17, 2017 to June 28, 2017. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 95, with a median age of 27. Among ill people, 67% are female. Among 31 people with available information, 18 (58%) are of Hispanic ethnicity. Among 33 people with available information, 12 (36%) report being hospitalized. One death was reported from New York City.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence collected to date indicate that yellow Maradol papayas are a likely source of this multistate outbreak. This investigation is ongoing.

An illness cluster in Maryland was identified. An illness cluster is defined as two or more people who do not live in the same household who report eating at the same restaurant location, attending a common event, or shopping at the same location of a grocery store in the week before becoming ill. In Maryland, several ill people reported eating papayas purchased from the same location of a grocery store. Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson were isolated from samples collected from ill people. Investigating illness clusters provides critical clues about the source of an outbreak. If several unrelated ill people ate or shopped at the same location of a restaurant or store within several days of each other, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there.

The Maryland Department of Health collected papayas from the grocery store associated with the illness cluster to test for Salmonella. One sample yielded the outbreak strain of Salmonella Kiambu and another sample yielded Salmonella Thompson. Both samples were from yellow Maradol papayas. WGS showed that the Salmonella Kiambu papaya isolate is closely related genetically to the Salmonella Kiambu isolates from ill people. This result provides more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating contaminated yellow Maradol papayas. CDC is working to collect additional information to determine whether the recent Salmonella Thompson illness in Maryland is part of this multistate outbreak.

Based on the available evidence, CDC recommends that consumers not eat, restaurants not serve, and retailers not sell yellow Maradol papayas until we learn more.