A Salmonella outbreak linked to Cavi brand whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico has ended after sickening 81 people in nine states, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) final report. Consumers no longer need to avoid Cavi brand papayas, as those that were linked to the outbreak are no longer on the market, the agency said.
The outbreak began in January 2019, but most of the cases occurred between April and July. The last illness was reported on July 16, 2019.
The case-patients ranged in age from less than one to 90 years old. Two-thirds of them were Hispanic. One-third of them, 27 people, were hospitalized.
That hospitalization rate is higher than the average for Salmonella outbreaks which is normally about 20 percent. One reason may be antibiotic resistance. Genetic tests on the outbreak strain Salmonella Uganda showed it was resistant to antibiotics, which means the infections can be more severe and difficult to treat.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC used traceback and epidemiologic evidence to identify the source of the outbreak as Cavi brand whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico. Seventy-four percent of the people interviewed, 25 of 34, reported eating papayas in the week before they became ill. Two people from Florida and one person from Texas ate papayas while traveling in the Northeast. The cases totals from the nine states are: CT (15), DE (1), FL (2), MA (6), NJ (22), NY (29), PA (4), RI (1), TX (1).
FDA Takes Action
The FDA collected records from the grocery stores where these people shopped. These records indicated that Cavi brand papayas imported from Mexico and distributed in the U.S. by Agroson’s LLC of The Bronx, New York, N.Y. were the source of the outbreak. The FDA requested that Agroson’s issue a recall for the papayas, but the company declined. The FDA then contacted all of Agroson’s wholesale customers to ensure the fruit was no longer sold.
The outbreak also prompted the FDA to issue an advisory calling on the papaya industry to clean up its act. The Cavi brand papaya outbreak was the eighth Salmonella outbreak linked to papayas imported from Mexico in eight years. In total, these outbreaks are responsible for more than 500 illnesses, 100 hospitalizations and two deaths.
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