The Oklahoman

Salmonella outbreak linked to onions sickens at least 98

- Dana Branham

A salmonella outbreak linked to onions has sickened at least 98 people in Oklahoma.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that across the U.S., 652 people were infected in 37 states between May 31 and Sept. 30.

Oklahoma had the second-highest number of sick people in the outbreak after Texas, according to the CDC.

But the true number of people infected is likely higher, the CDC said, because many people infected with salmonella don’t get tested and recover without seeking medical care. Plus, it usually takes three to four weeks to figure out if someone was part of a salmonella outbreak.

Public health officials determined the outbreak was linked to onions after interviews with sick people about what they had eaten before they became sick. Before the CDC’s announceme­nt Wednesday, the source of the outbreak had been unknown.

Of 193 people who provided informatio­n, 75% said they had eaten or maybe had eaten raw onion before they got sick, according to the CDC.

What you should do

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administra­tion urged people not to buy or eat any whole, fresh, red, white or yellow onions if they were imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distribute­d by ProSource Inc.

If you have onions at home without a sticker or packaging, throw them away, and if you can’t tell where the onions are from, don’t buy or eat them, the CDC said. Wash any surfaces or containers the onions may have touched with hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher.

Most people with salmonella have fever, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Symptoms usually begin after exposure between six hours and six days, and most people recover without treatment in four to seven days.

Children under 5, adults over 65 and people with weakened immune systems could suffer a more severe illness with salmonella.

Call a health care provider immediatel­y if you have diarrhea and a fever over 102 degrees F, diarrhea for more than three days without improving, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and being unable to keep liquids down, or signs of dehydratio­n.

“Health department representa­tives will ask what you ate in the week before you started to get sick, so if you start feeling like you might have salmonella, it’s a good idea to start making a list of the foods you’ve eaten during that time frame so that key informatio­n is readily available,” state epidemiolo­gist Jolianne Stone said in a statement.

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