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CDC says another salmonella outbreak in 34 states linked to red onions

TODAY logo TODAY 3 days ago Francesca Gariano

Across 34 states, nearly 400 people have fallen ill due to a salmonella outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this outbreak is likely linked to red onions.

“Although red onions have been identified as the likely source, other types of onions may be contaminated due to the way onions are grown and harvested,” a statement from the CDC read.

The CDC is advising that anyone who has bought onions from Thomson International, Inc — including red, white, yellow and sweet onions — refrain from eating, serving or selling them. Any food that contains these onions should also not be consumed and can be discarded.

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There will be additional tracing done by epidemiologists to determine if there are any other onions that may be linked to this outbreak.

If you have onions at home, the CDC suggests that you check the package or look for a sticker on the onion indicating if it’s from Thomson International, Inc and to throw it away if so. It’s best to throw onions away if you are unable to determine where they are from, and wash and sanitize any surface that may have come in contact with onions, including your refrigerator doors, knives, cutting boards or countertops.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, California, will be recalling all onion varieties because of the risk of cross-contamination. Recall information will be made public by Thomson International, Inc as soon as the information is available.

Typical symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps anywhere from six hours to six days after bacteria exposure. It typically lasts four to seven days with most people recovering without any treatment. People who have weakened immune systems, children under 5 and adults 65 and over are more likely to have a more severe illness.

If you have symptoms of a salmonella infection, talk to your health care provider and report your illness to your local health department. Health officials also recommend recording what you ate in the week before you started to feel ill in order to help health investigators if they contact you.

Salmonella cases began occurring June 19, with the most cases appearing in Oregon with 71, followed by 61 in Utah, 49 in California, 33 in Montana, and 23 in Michigan.

Since the CDC’s last update on July 24, there have been 184 more reported cases. Only 59 people have been hospitalized with no deaths reported.

An investigation by the CDC is still ongoing.

In addition to salmonella linked to red onions, there have also been 15 salmonella outbreaks spanning 48 states that are linked to contact with poultry in "backyard flocks."

As of July 28, there have been 938 reported cases of the salmonella linked to poultry with 151 hospitalizations. One death was reported in Oklahoma. The number of reported illnesses this year is higher than this time last year.

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