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Fruit Pulp Causes Typhiod Concerns

August 13, 2010

A rare U.S. outbreak of typhoid fever has been linked to a tropical fruit product used in frozen smoothies, the CDC reported on Thursday.

“A total of 7 confirmed and 2 probable individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella serotype Typhi have been reported from 2 states since May 25, 2010,” the agency said.

Three of the confirmed cases occurred in California and four in Nevada, with two additional California cases currently under investigation. 

The victims range in age from 4 to 31, with five people having required hospitalization, the CDC said.

Five of the victims drank milkshakes or smoothies made with frozen mamey fruit pulp, with four having used pulp sold by Goya Foods Inc. of Secaucus, New Jersey.

No other food was linked to the outbreak, which occurred between April and July.

“Typhi is the bacterium that causes typhoid fever. Typhoid fever is a very rare illness in the United States among non-international travelers and can cause serious symptoms, often times requiring hospitalization,” the agency said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The CDC is working with health officials in California, Nevada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the outbreak of Salmonella Typhi.” 

Typhoid fever is contracted “when food and water are contaminated by an infected individual and are then consumed by other people,” the health agency said.

Mamey, also known as zapote or sapote, is a tropical fruit grown primarily in Central and South America.  When prepared for use in frozen shakes or smoothies, it is peeled and mashed to produce pulp, the CDC said.

The CDC conducted a study to help identify the cause of the typhoid infections.

“CDC and public health officials in two states conducted an epidemiologic study comparing foods eaten by ill and well persons. Among interviewed ill persons, 5 (71%) of 7 reported consuming frozen mamey fruit pulp in a milkshake or smoothie.” 

“Upon further investigation, it was found that 4 (80%) of 5 ill persons consumed Goya brand frozen mamey fruit pulp.”

“No other food was found to be associated with illness. These results suggest that eating frozen mamey fruit pulp is a likely source of these illnesses.”
 
Goya has recalled 14-ounce plastic packages of the pulp sold in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.

One sample from a package found in Las Vegas tested positive for the bacteria, the FDA said Wednesday.

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness that has become rare in the United States, with just 400 cases occurring annually ““ most of which involve people who became infected while traveling abroad.

Symptoms include a persistent fever as high as 104 degrees, along with headache, weakness, abdominal pains or loss of appetite.  Some patients experience a rash of flat, rose-colored spots.  Typhoid infections can be treated with antibiotics.

The CDC’s full investigation announcement, including advice to consumers, can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhoidfever/#advice.

The FDA’s recall announcement can be viewed at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm222223.htm.




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