Federal officials report that an outbreak of Salmonella illnesses traced to Gills diced onions is over.
The outbreak sickened 80 people across 23 states. One person died. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a fourth of the patients required hospitalization.
The most recent person to become sick had symptom onset on Nov. 11. The first illness was documented as having begun on Aug. 2.
There is concern that some consumers could still have the diced onions in their freezers. For information that can be used to determine whether onions are subject to recall related to this outbreak, click here.
The Food and Drug Administration collected multiple water, environmental, and product samples from the farm that supplied the contaminated onions to Gills Onions. Six samples, three water and three environmental, were positive for Salmonella spp. Whole genome sequencing analysis confirmed that the strain of Salmonella found in isolates associated with three samples matched the same strain of Salmonella causing illnesses in this outbreak. Additional Salmonella isolates from the samples were detected, and the CDC identified people who got sick with these strains of Salmonella.
“The number of sick people in this outbreak was likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not have been limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella,” according to the CDC’s outbreak update.
The CDC’s statistics show that 28 people are sick from Salmonella infections for every confirmed sick person.
State and local public health officials interviewed people about the foods they ate the week before they got sick. Of 32 people with information available, 27 reported eating or likely eating onions or were served diced onions. Of these 27 people, seven people resided in long-term care facilities.
Investigators identified an illness sub-cluster of three people who resided in the same long-term care facility. Investigating a sub-cluster can sometimes help identify a food item eaten by all the sick people that could be the outbreak’s source.
FDA conducted a traceback investigation and determined that onions processed at Gills Onions were available at service points where people ate before becoming ill. Meal records from the long-term care facilities showed that people were served diced onions from Gills Onions.
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