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CDC reports Salmonella outbreaks traced to papayas likely over

A collection of four Salmonella outbreaks traced to Mexican papayas appears to be over, according to federal officials who report at least 251 people across 25 states were sickened, including two who died.

“Each outbreak was linked to papayas imported from a different farm in Mexico,” according to final outbreak updates posted Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported 79 of the victims had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization. Across the four outbreaks, victims’ illness onset dates range from Dec. 20, 2016, through Aug. 14 this year.

The Food and Drug Administration also posted a final outbreak update Friday, continuing to warn consumers to not eat maradol papayas from four Mexican farms linked to the four outbreaks by lab tests. The FDA and CDC matched eight different types of Salmonella bacteria from papayas to Salmonella isolated from outbreak victims.

Four distributors in the United States recalled their branded papayas sourced from those four farms. Those four farms in Mexico are:

  • Carica de Campeche in Tenabo, Campeche;
  • Rancho El Ganadero in Colima;
  • El Zapotanito in La Huerta, Jalisco; and
  • Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya  de Tecomán y Costa Alegre, Tijuana, Baja California.

During the outbreak investigations, increased testing at the U.S. border by FDA inspectors “revealed three additional positive import samples that linked to sick individuals.” Details on those shipments, according to the FDA update, include:

  • Papayas from distributor Caraveo Produce in Tecomán, Mexico, tested positive for Salmonella Infantis and Newport and were not released into U.S. commerce. Whole genome sequencing showed that papayas from previous shipment(s) imported by Caraveo Produce were the likely cause of illnesses. Caraveo Produce identified the Rancho El Ganadero farm in Colima, Mexico as the supplier.
  • Papayas from El Zapotanito farm in La Huerta, Mexico, tested positive for Salmonella Urbana and were not released into U.S. commerce. However, that bacterium was found in recent lab work from seven ill people. Three of five people interviewed reported eating papayas before they became ill. This indicated that papayas from previous shipment(s) from El Zapotanito were the likely cause of these related illnesses. Evidence obtained by the FDA indicated that there were likely no shipments from El Zapotanito on the market because they were all past shelf life. The FDA placed El Zapotanito on Import Alert 99-35, and investigated whether other importers may have sourced papayas from El Zapotanito.
  • Papayas from Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya de Tecomán y Costa Alegre, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, tested positive for Salmonella Anatum, which were sold through Aug. 29. Whole genome sequencing confirmed that the strain of Salmonella from the papayas matched the genetic fingerprint for 20 cases of illness. The FDA worked with the importer, Bravo Produce of San Ysidro, CA, to ensure all product was removed from the marketplace. The FDA placed Productores Y Exportadores De Carica Papaya De Tecomán y Costa Alegre on Import Alert 99-35.

Individual outbreak updates from CDC
Early in the Salmonella outbreak investigation, the CDC was posting collective updates on all outbreak strains and all implicated papaya brands and farms. As the number of Salmonella serotypes increased, the CDC split the investigation into four investigations with individual reporting pages on its website.

Details from CDC’s final updates on the four outbreaks, differentiated by the agency based on the four implicated farms, are available at the following links:

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