A nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to raw cucumbers appears to be over, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The outbreak, which spanned 40 states, made nearly 910 people sick causing more than 200 to require a trip to the hospital. Six people who had the illness have died, but the CDC believes that salmonella was not a contributing factor in two of the deaths.
The CDC linked Mexican cucumbers distributed by Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce as a cause of the outbreak and the company issued a two recalls last fall.
According to data from the CDC, no one from North Carolina reported becoming ill. The largest number of illnesses were reported in California with 245 people contracting the bacteria.
Learning More about Salmonella
Salmonella is a naturally occurring bacteria often found in the guts and intestines of animals. With an estimated 1.2 million illnesses each year, it is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. While salmonella is often found in raw meat, dairy and eggs, salmonella can also be found on fresh produce, nuts and other food products.
People with strong immune systems often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. It is much more serious for those with weakened immune systems like babies, children, and the elderly.
In rare circumstances, salmonella infection can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis, and arthritis.
To prevent contracting salmonella, the CDC offers the following tips:
- Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly.
- Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurized) milk.
- If you are served undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant, don't hesitate to send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
- Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
- Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and the immunocompromised.
- Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces.
- Avoid direct or even indirect contact between reptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards, snakes) and infants or immunocompromised persons.
- Don't work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.
- Mother's milk is the safest food for young infants. Breastfeeding prevents salmonellosis and many other health problems.