Home General News CDC 'Salmonella Onion Outbreak' Investigation Report Reveal Disease Clusters

CDC ‘Salmonella Onion Outbreak’ Investigation Report Reveal Disease Clusters

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The latest investigation report from the CDC regarding the Salmonella Outbreak from Onions highlights the extent of the infection.

As of August 6, 2020, a total of 640 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 43 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Related: Freshouse Potatoes, Lemons Recalled Over Listeria Contamination

HOW DID IT HAPPEN?

Graphic of the U.S. map with persons infected by state of residence as of August 6, 2020.

  • Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 19, 2020, to July 23, 2020.
  • Ill people range in age from less than 1 to 102 years, with a median age of 39. Fifty-four percent of ill people are female.
  • Of 343 ill people with information available, 85 hospitalizations have been reported. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.

Read More: ‘Salmonella Outbreak’ Onions Recalled After 400 Food Poisoning Cases

ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE NOT FOUND

Whole genome sequencing analysis of 48 isolates from ill people did not predict any antibiotic resistance. Standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory is underway.

Whole genome sequencing analysis shows that an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections in Canada is related genetically to this outbreak in the United States.

This means that people in both of these outbreaks are likely to share a common source of infection.

HOW WERE THE INVESTIGATIONS DONE?

On July 10, 2020, CDC’s PulseNet identified an outbreak of 13 Salmonella Newport infections in three states. Since being identified, the outbreak has rapidly grown to a total of 640 infections in 43 states.

State and local public health officials are interviewing ill people to determine what they ate and other exposures in the week before their illness started.

  • Many ill people were identified as part of illness clusters.
  • An illness cluster is defined as two or more people who do not live in the same household who report eating at the same restaurant location, attending a common event, or shopping at the same location of a grocery store in the week before becoming ill.
  • Investigating illness clusters can provide critical clues about the source of an outbreak. If several unrelated ill people ate or shopped at the same location of a restaurant or store within several days of each other, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there. Twenty-five illness clusters have been identified in nine states. Information from these clusters shows that many ill people ate red onions.
  • The traceback information collected from these illness clusters identified Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, Calif., as a likely source of red onions.
  • Due to the way onions are grown and harvested, other onion types, such as, white, yellow, or sweet yellow, may also be contaminated.
  • Additional traceback is ongoing to determine if other onions are linked to the outbreak.

TIMELINE OF THE INVESTIGATION

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections in Canada that is related by whole genome sequencing to the U.S. outbreak. On July 30, PHAC’s outbreak investigationexternal icon identified U.S. red onions as a likely source of its outbreak.

  • On August 1, 2020, Thomson International, Inc., voluntarily recalledexternal icon red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • On August 1, Giant Eagle recalledexternal icon onions and foods made with recalled onions sold in stores across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Maryland.
  • On August 1, Publix recalled onions sold in bulk at stores in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
  • On August 5, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) issued a public health alertexternal icon for products made with recalled onions. Check the alert for product details.
  • On August 6, 2020, Taylor Farms issued a recallexternal icon of foods that were made from recalled onions.

DIRECTIVE FOR THE PEOPLE

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, serve, or sell recalled onions from Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, California, or other foods made with recalled onions.

CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

Pratiti Nath
Pratiti Nath
Pratiti is a maritime editor and freelance writer based out of India. Having biotechnology and microbiology degree she writes on healthcare, medical, food, sports, and general news at Drew Reports News. She can be reached at pratiti@drewreportsnews.com
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