U.S – Federal officials have officially declared an end to the Salmonella outbreak associated with Gills diced onions, which affected 80 individuals across 23 states, resulting in one fatality. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a quarter of the patients required hospitalization during the outbreak. The most recent case had symptom onset on November 11, with the initial illness traced back to August 2.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an extensive investigation, collecting water, environmental, and product samples from the farm that supplied the contaminated onions to Gills Onions. 

Six samples, including three water and three environmental samples, tested positive for Salmonella spp. Whole genome sequencing analysis confirmed that the Salmonella strain found in these samples matched the strain causing illnesses in the outbreak.

While the outbreak is declared over, there is ongoing concern that consumers may still have the affected diced onions in their freezers. To determine whether onions are subject to recall related to this outbreak, consumers are advised to visit the FDA’s website for specific information.

The CDC acknowledges that the number of reported cases is likely much lower than the actual number, as many people recover without seeking medical care or being tested for Salmonella

According to the CDC, there are typically 28 unreported cases for every confirmed case. State and local health officials conducted interviews and identified an illness sub-cluster involving three people residing in the same long-term care facility. 

Investigating sub-clusters can aid in pinpointing a common food item consumed by all affected individuals.

Traceback investigation

The FDA conducted a thorough traceback investigation and determined that onions processed at Gills Onions were available at service points where affected individuals had eaten before falling ill. 

Meal records from long-term care facilities confirmed that diced onions from Gills Onions were served to people who later became sick.

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) analysis confirmed that the strain of Salmonella found in isolates associated with three of the samples matched the same strain of Salmonella causing illnesses in this outbreak.

Additional Salmonella isolates from the samples were detected, and CDC identified people who got sick with these strains of Salmonella.

FDA and CDC partners reviewed the available data; however, there was not enough epidemiologic or traceback evidence to implicate a product or source of contamination for those illnesses.

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