Salmonella linked to red onions sickens 76 Oregonians


Of the 76 cases, 18 have been hospitalized

A rendering of the Salmonella bacteria. (CDC)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon health officials are warning people not to eat onions that come from a produce distribution company in California after 76 people fell ill with Salmonella.

Those 76 cases span across 13 Oregon counties, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Eighteen people have been hospitalized. All of them have matching strains of the Salmonella bacteria.

OHA officials said these cases are a part of a nationwide outbreak that has sickened more than 400 people across 40 states, and has even affected consumers in Canada. Canadian health officials first raised concerns about the red onions, then the US Federal Drug Administration traced the contaminated onions to Thomson International, Inc., based in Bakersfield, California. The company will issue a recall for all onion varietals in case there was cross-contamination between products.

An OHA epidemiologist said anyone who believes they got “diarrhea from consuming red onions might want to contact a health care provider.” But went on to say that most people with salmonellosis recover without antibiotics. If you ate red onions but did not get sick, there is no need to contact a doctor.

“If you have any of these potentially contaminated onions, discard them and wash your hands afterwards,” advised Dr. Emilio DeBess in a statement.

Common symptoms of Salmonella include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps from one day to one week after eating the contaminated food. Most people recover without treatment, according to the OHA, however vulnerable populations—infants, senior adults, or those with compromised immune systems—can develop a more severe illness.

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