California is among 34 states to have an outbreak of Salmonella due to red onions. This doesn’t come as a shock seeing the trend in rising cases among the many states. While people are finding themselves hospitalized from this outbreak, thankfully none have succumbed to the illness. Many who have Salmonella are never tested because they aren’t aware that they need to be or the illness passes without concern, however certain demographic groups are hit harder than others. Here is what we know so far in this California Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak:

From the CDC

  • Since our last update on July 24, 2020, an additional 184 ill people have been reported in this outbreak, including 37 from 11 new states: Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.
  • A total of 396 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 34 states.
    • Fifty-nine hospitalizations have been reported. No deaths have been reported.
  • Epidemiologic and traceback information showed that red onions are the likely source of this outbreak.
    • The traceback information collected identified Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, CA as a likely source of red onions in this outbreak. Due to the way onions are grown and harvested, other types of onions, such as white, yellow, or sweet, may also be contaminated.
    • Additional traceback is ongoing to determine if other onions are linked to the outbreak.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections, which is related by whole genome sequencing to this outbreak in the United States. Canada has identified red onions imported from the United States as a likely source of its outbreak.
  • This investigation is ongoing. CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.

Advice to Consumers During This California Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak

Do not eat, serve, or sell any onions from Thomson International Inc. or products made with these onions. Onion types include red, white, yellow, and sweet varieties.

  • At home, check your refrigerator and kitchen for any of these onions or fresh foods made with them.
    • Check the package or look for a sticker on an onion to see if it is from Thomson International, Inc. If it is, don’t eat it. Throw it away.
    • If you can’t tell where your onions are from, don’t eat them. Throw them away.
    • If you made any foods with onions and you don’t know where they are from, do not eat them. Throw them away, even if no one got sick.
    • Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with onions or their packaging, such as countertops, refrigerator drawers, knives, and cutting boards.
  • When you eat out or shop for food, check with restaurants and grocery stores to make sure they are not serving or selling onions from Thomson International Inc., or fresh foods prepared with them.
    • If they don’t know where their onions are from, don’t buy the product.
    • People sickened in this outbreak reported eating raw onions in freshly prepared foods, including salads, sandwiches, wraps, salsas, and dips.

Advice to Restaurants, Retailers, and Suppliers

  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any onions from Thomson International, Inc., or food prepared with these onions.
    • If you don’t know where your onions are from, don’t serve or sell them.
    • Clean and sanitize all surfaces that onions have come in contact with, including cutting boards, countertops, slicers, utensils, and storage bins.
  • Suppliers, distributors, and others in the supply chain should not ship or sell any onions from Thomson International, Inc.
    • Suppliers and distributors that repackage raw onions should clean and sanitize any surfaces and storage bins that may have come in contact with recalled onions.

Take these steps if you have symptoms of a Salmonella infection:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
  • Report your illness to your local health department.
    • The health department will likely call you for an interview to ask you about foods you ate in the week before you got sick.
  • Assist public health investigators by answering their questions when they contact you.

About the California Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak

As of July 29, 2020, a total of 396 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 34 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 19, 2020, to July 12, 2020. Ill people range in age from less than 1 to 102 years, with a median age of 39. Fifty-two percent of ill people are female. Of 236 ill people with information available, 59 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. Please see the Timeline for Reporting Cases of Salmonella Infection for more details.

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 likely share a common source of infection.

About Salmonella

  • Salmonella bacteria cause the foodborne illness salmonellosis.
  • Salmonella illness is more common in the summer. Warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create ideal conditions for Salmonella to grow. Be sure to refrigerate or freeze perishables (foods likely to spoil or go bad quickly), prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours. Chill them within 1 hour if the temperature is 90°F or hotter.
  • Named after Daniel E. Salmon, a veterinarian who spent his career studying animal diseases for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Salmonella bacteria have been known to make people sick since 1885.
  • Pets can also spread the bacteria within the home environment if they eat food contaminated with Salmonella.
  • Salmonella illness can be serious and is more dangerous for certain people. Symptoms of infection usually appear 6 hours to 6 days after eating a contaminated food. These symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. In most cases, illness lasts 4–7 days and people recover without antibiotic treatment. Some people may have severe diarrhea and need to be hospitalized. Anyone can get a Salmonella infection, but some groups are more likely to develop a serious illness: adults aged 65 and older, children younger than 5 years, and people with immune systems weakened from medical conditions, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and cancer, or their treatment.
  • Salmonella can be spread by food handlers who do not wash their hands and/or the surfaces and tools they use between food preparation steps, and when people eat raw or undercooked foods.

How The Lange Law Firm Can Help

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Salmonella food poisoning outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm is one of the only law firms in the nation focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits.

If you got sick in this latest California Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help.  Our Salmonella lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your Salmonella food poisoning.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Samantha Cooper

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