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Cucumbers linked to salmonella outbreak that has spread to 25 states

U.S. food safety: What to know amid outbreaks
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A salmonella outbreak linked to cucumbers has expanded to 25 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, with at least 162 people having fallen ill and 54 hospitalized, health officials announced on Wednesday.

Federal and state agencies are investigating the outbreak following data showing that cucumbers may be contaminated with salmonella, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a public post. Testing that identified salmonella in a Fresh Start Produce product sample prompted the recall two days ago of cucumbers shipped to 14 states, "but these sellers may have shipped to additional states or repackaged them for stores," according to the federal agency.

Testing is still underway to establish a definitive link, according to the agency. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in the young, frail or elderly. Healthy people infected with salmonella can experience symptoms including fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause more severe infections. 

Illnesses linked to the outbreak started on March 11 and continued through mid-May, according to the CDC. Those impacted live in the District of Columbia and the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. 

The CDC and FDA are also investigating a separate outbreak of salmonella infections tied to 158 illnesses in 23 states. "Investigators are working to determine whether the two outbreaks could be linked to the same food," stated the CDC.

Hundreds of deaths

Salmonella bacteria cause about 1.3 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths in the U.S. every year, with food causing most of the illnesses, according to the CDC. Anyone with severe salmonella symptoms should call their health care provider. Most people recover without specific treatment and should not take antibiotics, the agency noted.

The agency urged consumers not to eat any of the recalled cucumbers and to wash any items or surfaces that may have touched a recalled cucumber with hot soapy water or a dishwasher.

"If you recently purchased cucumbers and have them at home, you can check with the store where you purchased them to see if they were part of the recall. If you can't tell, do not eat them," the CDC said.

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