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More than 350 patients confirmed in outbreaks linked to fresh cucumbers

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Federal officials say 381 people are now confirmed as patients in two Salmonella outbreaks linked to fresh cucumbers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 75 percent of patients interviewed reported eating fresh cucumbers in the days before becoming ill. 

“Epidemiologic data show that cucumbers may be contaminated with Salmonella and may be making people sick,” according to an outbreak update from the CDC.

In an outbreak of Salmonella Africana infection, the patient count stands at 196, up from 162 a week ago. In an outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup, 185 patients have been confirmed, up from 158 a week ago.

Patients are stretched from coast to coast, living in 28 states and the District of Columbia. Of 164 patients with information available, at least 68 have required hospitalization in the Salmonella Africana outbreak, according to the CDC. No one has died. Details about the patients in the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak will be reported as they become available.

“The two outbreaks share several similarities, including where and when illnesses occurred and the demographics of ill people,” according to the CDC.

Fresh Start Produce Sales of Delray, FL, initiated a recall because of the outbreak. The company that supplied cucumbers to Fresh Start is no longer growing and harvesting, and the recalled cucumbers should no longer be on the market, according to the Food and Drug Administration. 

“As part of the Salmonella Africana investigation, officials in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture collected samples of cucumbers from several retail locations in the state. Testing identified Salmonella Bareilly, a different strain of Salmonella than the one making people sick in this outbreak. CDC is not currently investigating an outbreak of illnesses with this strain,” according to the agency’s outbreak update. 

In the Salmonella Africana outbreak, illnesses started on March 11, and the most recently confirmed patient became ill on May 23.

“The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” according to the CDC.

The CDC estimates 29 sick people for every one confirmed as a patient in Salmonella outbreaks. This is because some sick people don’t seek medical treatment and others who do see doctors are not explicitly tested for Salmonella infection. Also, it can take up to four weeks or more for confirmed patients to be added to the federal tally because it takes between diagnosis and reporting to public health officials.

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