Update: An outbreak of Salmonella from contaminated cucumbers has now left four people dead and 732 others sick, the CDC announced this week.
Confirmed cases of infections have been found across 35 different states.
People have been infected with a strain of the bacteria called Salmonella Poona, after eating cucumbers from Mexico that were distributed in the U.S. by California company Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.
According to the CDC, on September 4, the company voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label during the period from August 1, 2015, through September 3, 2015, ‘because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.’
States where people have been infected
These ‘Limited Edition’ cucumbers — also referred to as “slicer” or “American” cucumbers — have sickened people in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The CDC says the cucumbers may have been distributed in other states as well, but it does not believe that domestically produced cucumbers are involved in the outbreak.
Read more: Why you should stop drinking bottled water
What is Salmonella Poona?
Salmonella Poona is a less common strain of the bacteria and the symptoms can include fever, vomiting and diarrhea — the same symptoms experienced when someone is infected with the most common strain, Benjamin Chapman, PhD, an assistant professor and food-safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, told Yahoo Health.
Salmonella causes approximately 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to data from the CDC.
What causes contamination
Experts say contamination usually occurs when the outside of the cucumber comes in contact with fecal matter — often from irrigation water or manure. But that doesn’t mean that the inside of the cucumber is necessarily safe. Experts say it’s always safer to assume the entire product is contaminated and to throw it out.
If you aren’t sure where your cucumbers came from, the CDC says to call the store where you purchased them and ask. But if there is any doubt, throw them out! The CDC has more information on the outbreak here.