When the strain of Salmonella making people sick was traced to batches of cucumbers imported from Mexico back in September, it seemed that the cucumber outbreak was solved. Only people are still getting sick with that same strain, suggesting either that people keep cucumbers around for a while or that there’s another food source still out there infecting people. Since we last updated you, hundreds of more people have become sick, and authorities reported three more deaths.
Now there have been 888 cases in 39 states, with the greatest number in California, Arizona, Texas, and Utah. The number is probably much greater: those are the people who became sick enough to visit a health care provider and had samples taken and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 191 patients report being hospitalized for their illness. There were six reported deaths, but authorities say that two of them weren’t related to the Salmonella infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention do have one useful suggestion for grocery shoppers: be sure to wash your cloth reusable grocery bags often, since pathogens can stay behind on your bags. They also recommend that if you had any of the recalled cucumbers in your home, you should sanitize the crisper drawer in your refrigerator or any other surface where the cucumbers may have been stored.
Since the recall was publicized and affected cucumbers pulled from stores, more than 100 people have still become sick. People could still be getting sick: it takes a while to test and confirm a stool sample from a patient, which means that illnesses that started as far back as December 20 may not have been reported yet.
Symptoms of illness caused by Salmonella include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Serious illness is more likely in people with pre-existing health problems, young children, and the elderly.