Untreated water was found to be a source of the Salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Bedner Growers Inc., of Boynton Beach, FL, is the source of cucumbers implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella infections.

According to FDA investigators, untreated canal water is the most likely source of the pathogen.

The outbreak, which involves two strains of Salmonella — Salmonella Africana and Salmonella Braenderup — has sickened 449 people across 31 states and the District of Columbia. Of the 188 patients interviewed, 129 reported eating cucumbers before becoming ill.

There are likely many more outbreak patients than have been reported. This is because some patients do not seek medical attention, and others are not explicitly tested for Salmonella infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every confirmed patient in a salmonella outbreak, 29 go unconfirmed.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 11 to June 4. Of 360 people with information available, 125 have been hospitalized, an unusually high percentage for Salmonella outbreaks. No deaths have been reported. Patients range from less than one year old to 94 years old.

Although laboratory, epidemiological, and traceback data have found that cucumbers from Bedner Growers Inc. are the likely source of illnesses, the grower does not account for all infections in the outbreak.

“As part of the investigation, FDA conducted an onsite inspection at Bedner Growers Inc., a grower that supplies Fresh Start Produce Sales Inc. FDA collected samples as part of this inspection and Salmonella Braenderup was detected in samples of untreated canal water used by Bedner Growers, Inc.,” according to the FDA”s outbreak update on July 2.

Whole Genome Sequencing analysis determined that the Salmonella found in the water used by Bedner Growers Inc. matches a strain of Salmonella Braenderup that is causing some of the illnesses in this outbreak. Additional Salmonella types were detected in soil and water samples collected at Bedner Growers Inc. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA are investigating to see if these strains have caused illness in people.

Additionally, based on traceback information collected, Bedner Growers Inc. supplied cucumbers to multiple points of service where ill people reported purchasing or eating cucumbers. FDA is continuing to conduct traceback to identify other possible points of contamination.

Bedner Growers Inc.’s cucumber growing and harvesting season is over. No product from this farm is on the market, and there is likely no ongoing risk to the public from Bedner’s cucumbers.

About Salmonella infections

Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. However, anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. According to the CDC, infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile.

Anyone who has eaten any cucumber and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

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