Federal health officials are urging people in six states in the Northeast not to eat fresh papaya from Mexico amid a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 62 people, sending more than a third of them to hospitals.
The states affected are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. People in Florida and Texas also fell ill after consuming papaya purchased in one of the six states, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.
“Preliminary analysis of product import records indicates that the whole, fresh papayas that made people sick in this outbreak were from Mexico,” the FDA said.
Regulators did not order a recall, but urged people who live in the affected states to dispose of any papaya, even if some was eaten and no one got sick. This includes fruit salad or other mixes that contain papayas from Mexico.
“If you aren’t sure the papaya you bought is from Mexico, you can ask the place of purchase. When in doubt, don’t eat the papaya. Throw it out,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged.
Any surfaces where the papaya had been stored should be washed and sanitized, the CDC said. Tips on doing this can be found here.
Of the 62 illnesses reported, 23 people required hospitalization. The first reported illness began on Jan. 14, and the start of the latest was on June 8. Most of the illnesses occurred after April, the CDC said.
Salmonella is a gastrointestinal illness and fever caused by bacteria that typically shows symptoms 12 to 72 hours after infection. These symptoms typically last four to seven days and include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
Children younger than 5, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe salmonellosis infections, which can include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool. Severe cases may be fatal, the FDA said.
Those who suspect salmonella infection should contact their health care provider and report the illness to their health department.