Update: As of Sept. 15, 2015, there were 14 confirmed Salmonella Poona cases in Montana linked to Mexican cucumbers and one suspected case, which is three more confirmed cases and one additional county since the initial outbreak announcement on Sept. 4, 2015. Those sickened were diagnosed in these nine Montana counties: Cascade, Fergus, Flathead, Gallatin, Lewis & Clark, Park, Musselshell, Valley and Yellowstone, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). The ages of those sickened range from 3-84 years, with a median of 55 years. Eight of the confirmed cases are male. One person was hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported, DPHHS stated. DPHHS officials have asked local health department sanitarians to verify that the recalled Andrew & Williams Limited Edition brand Mexican cucumbers have been removed from commerce. The department also posted a nine-page list and map of where the recalled cucumbers were distributed in Montana, including retail outlets, schools, hospitals and Indian reservations. The previous Food Safety News story posted Sept. 4, 2015, follows: The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced Friday that public health officials on the state and county levels were investigating a cluster of Salmonella cases reported from eight different counties. There are now 11 confirmed Salmonella Poona cases with identical genetic markers, and two suspected cases have been identified, the department reported. Those sickened are being interviewed to obtain information about foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before their illnesses began. The cases were reported from Cascade, Fergus, Flathead, Gallatin, Lewis & Clark, Park, Musselshell and Yellowstone counties in Montana. “Every effort is being made to identify a common source quickly and to protect consumers from any products or practices that may be unsafe,” said Dana Fejes, a DPHHS foodborne epidemiologist. Public health officials are looking at store-bought cucumbers as possibly being the source, but weren’t yet sure where they might have come from, a DPHHS spokesman told Food Safety News on Friday. He noted that S. Poona rarely makes an appearance in Big Sky Country. Since many of these types of outbreaks are foodborne-related, Fejes reminded people to always wash vegetables and cook meats appropriately. “Many people may be harvesting garden vegetables and enjoying burgers this time of year, so please wash your vegetables and cook meats to proper temperatures to avoid foodborne diseases,” Fejes said. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. Anyone experiencing the symptoms above is encouraged to contact their health care provider. DPHHS suggested that consumers and retailers follow these safe produce handling recommendations:
- Wash Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing produce. Wash with soap and hot water, rinse and then sanitize with bleach solution (1 tablespoon per gallon) any cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
- Prepare Wash all produce, including produce harvested from your own garden, thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on produce before preparing and eating. Cut ready-to-eat foods before meat and poultry. Cook meats to proper temperatures (refer to package inserts) and use a food thermometer.
- Store Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked produce as soon as possible, or within 2 hours. Store produce away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
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