CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — A salmonella outbreak tied to onions from Chihuahua has sickened more than 650 people in 37 states, U.S. health officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at least 129 people have been hospitalized. No one has died. Nearly all of the illnesses were reported in August and September, and the largest numbers of cases were in Texas and Oklahoma.
The number of people sick with this salmonella outbreak is likely higher than reported, and it's possible the outbreak isn't limited to the reported states, the CDC said.
"This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella," the agency noted.
The outbreak has been traced to whole red, white and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua and distributed throughout the U.S. by ProSource Inc., according to the CDC.
"Epidemiologic and traceback data show that one source of infections in this outbreak are whole red, white, and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed throughout the United States by ProSource Inc," a CDC statement said.
The company told health officials that the onions were last imported in late August. But onions can be stored for months and may still be in homes and businesses, officials indicated.
Consumers are advised not to buy or eat whole fresh red, white, or yellow onions imported from Chihuahua and distributed by ProSource, and to throw out any whole red, white, or yellow onions that do not have a sticker or packaging.
"Throw away any unlabeled onions at home. Do not eat, sell, or serve red, white, or yellow onions imported from Mexico and distributed U.S.-wide by ProSource Inc," the CDC warned in a tweet.
In addition to throwing away onions, people should wash surfaces where there was contact and reach out to a doctor if severe salmonella symptoms develop. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea and a high fever, extensive vomiting and signs of dehydration, which usually begin six hours to six days after infection, according to the CDC.
Federal health officials are investigating to determine whether other onions and suppliers are linked to this outbreak.
An estimated 1.35 million Salmonella cases occur annually in the US, with about 420 deaths, the CDC indicated. Infection usually happens by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.
Onions last year were also the cause of another salmonella outbreak that infected 640 people from more than 40 states.
Also last year, at least 55 people became sick in 12 different states after a salmonella outbreak was linked to dried wood ear mushrooms, the CDC said. And peaches and their products were recalled in 2020 after 101 people were sickened in 17 states by salmonella poisoning linked to the fruit.