Imported onions identified as a food source of fast-growing Salmonella outbreak in 37 states; 98 cases reported in Oklahoma

October 21, 2021 | Headlines

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) today reported that 98 people in Oklahoma have confirmed Salmonella Oranienburg infections, the second highest number of infections of the 37 states currently impacted by a fast-growing outbreak. 

Salmonella infection is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Infections most frequently occur through consumption of contaminated water or food. Salmonella infection is usually not life threatening and most people recover without treatment after four to seven days.

Texas has the most confirmed Salmonella Oranienburg infections, associated with this outbreak, with 158. Nationwide there have been 652 infections, and 129 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a traceback investigation and identified ProSource Inc. as a common supplier of onions imported to many of the restaurants where sick people ate. Investigators are working to determine if other onions and suppliers are linked to this outbreak.  

Public health guidance is to avoid eating, selling or serving fresh whole red, white or yellow onions distributed by ProSource Inc. that were imported from Chihuahua, Mexico. Fresh whole onions are often sold in bulk bins in grocery stores and may have stickers on them identifying the brand or where they were grown. If you have unlabeled fresh whole red, white or yellow onions at home, throw them away and don’t eat them.

OSDH requests that individuals experiencing symptoms of a Salmonella infection to please call their healthcare provider and ask if testing is needed. All Salmonella infections are reportable to OSDH and will be investigated.

“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,” said Jolianne Stone, MPH, state epidemiologist. 

Most people infected with Salmonella experience diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and vomiting. Symptoms usually start within a window of six hours to six days after swallowing the bacteria. 

Proactive measures to prevent getting sick from Salmonella include washing your hands, utensils and surfaces often. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting or peeling them. Be sure to keep foods that won’t be cooked separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a food thermometer to ensure cooking temperatures are high enough to kill germs and refrigerate perishable foods within two hours.

More information will be shared publicly as the investigation continues; learn more about Salmonella Oranienburg

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