The CDC reports that as of October 5, 2015, 732 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 35 states. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Alaska (14), Arizona (114), Arkansas (11), California (192), Colorado (18), Hawaii (1), Idaho (24), Illinois (9), Indiana (3), Iowa (6), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (5), Maryland (1), Minnesota (37), Missouri (11), Montana (14), Nebraska (6), Nevada (14), New Mexico (31), New York (6), North Dakota (6), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (20), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Texas (34), Utah (53), Virginia (1), Washington (22), Wisconsin (40), and Wyoming (7).
Among people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to September 25, 2015. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 17. Fifty percent of ill people are children younger than 18 years. Fifty-five percent of ill people are female. Among 536 people with available information, 150 (28%) report being hospitalized. Four deaths have been reported from Arizona (1), California (1), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (1).
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations have identified cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections in this outbreak.
A total of 275 cases were reported from 29 states and the District of Columbia. An additional 18 suspected cases not meeting the case definition were excluded from the analysis because they were found to be temporal outliers and unlikely to be related. Illness onset dates ranged from May 25 to September 29, 2014. Median age of patients was 42 years (range = <1–90 years); 66% (174 of 265) were female. Thirty-four percent (48 of 141) were hospitalized; one death was reported in an elderly man with bacteremia. A total of 101 patients were interviewed using the supplemental questionnaire about exposures in the week before illness onset. This questionnaire focused on leafy greens and tomatoes and contained smaller sections on fruit, vegetables, and seafood common to the Delmarva region.
CDC collaborated with public health officials in many states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul infections linked to imported cucumbers supplied by Daniel Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse of Culiacán, Mexico and distributed by Tricar Sales, Inc. of Rio Rico, Arizona.
A total of 84 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Saintpaul were reported from 18 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: Arizona (11), California (29), Colorado (2), Idaho (2), Illinois (3), Louisiana (1), Maryland (1), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (9), Nevada (1), New Mexico (2), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3), Oregon (2), South Dakota (2), Texas (7), Virginia (3), and Wisconsin (2).
Among persons for whom information was available, illness onset dates ranged from January 12, 2013 to April 28, 2013. Ill persons ranged in age from less than 1 year to 89 years, with a median age of 27 years. Sixty-two percent of ill persons were female. Among 60 persons with available information, 17 (28%) were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
I knew Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce sounded a bit familiar. According to the CDC, in March 1997, a total of 153 cases of hepatitis A were reported in Calhoun County, Michigan. 151 case-patients were students or staff of schools in four different school districts. A case-control and cohort study conducted in two different school districts established a strong association between illness and consumption of food items containing frozen strawberries. The strawberries associated with illness were reportedly from Mexico; a company in southern California processed, packed, and froze the strawberries in 30-pound containers for commercial use and then distributed the strawberries to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-sponsored school lunch programs.
Later that year the Justice Department announced that a federal probe into the sale of hepatitis A-tainted strawberries ended in November with criminal and civil pleas by a strawberry distributor and its president. The March, 1997 outbreak contaminated 198 school children and teachers in Michigan, as well as others in Maine and Wisconsin.
Andrew and Williamson Sales Co., Inc. (“A&W”), and its president, Frederick L. Williamson, admitted their role in the fraudulent sale of 1,742,280 pounds of Mexican grown strawberries to the USDA’s school lunch program. As part of a parallel civil settlement, the company has agreed to pay the government $1.3 million in civil damages. The indictment charges A&W with attempting to disguise the fact that the strawberries it was supplying to the USDA were not grown domestically, as required by the agency. Also, Richard H. Kershaw, the sales representative in charge of A&W’s frozen strawberry business entered a guilty plea.
Both defendants pleaded guilty to violations of conspiracy to defraud the United States, making a false statement, and making a false claim. Frederick L. Williamson, 61, president of Andrew and Williamson Co., spent five months in prison and five months in home custody. The federal judge also ordered Williamson’s company to pay $150,000 in restitution and a $200,000 fine. The company agreed to pay $1.3 million to the federal government.