Salmonella outbreak reported in 37 states, including Michigan, linked to onions

The Detroit News

A Salmonella outbreak in 37 states, including Michigan, has been linked to onions from Mexico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The onions — whole red, white and yellow from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed by ProSource Inc. — were sold to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the United States, the CDC said.

The onions — whole red, white and yellow from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed by ProSource Inc. — were sold to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the United States, the CDC said.

As of Monday, 652 people have been reported sickened by Salmonella Oranienburg, including nine people in Michigan, the CDC reported. At least 129 have been hospitalized.

ProSource said the onions were last imported on Aug. 27, but because the onions can last up to three months, they may still be in homes and businesses.

The CDC, Food and Drug Administration and public health authorities are collecting data to investigate the outbreak. Authorities also are working to determine if other kinds of onions may be linked to the bacteria.

Consumers are advised to throw away any whole red, white or yellow onions that have stickers or packaging indicating the brand is ProSource Inc., and to toss any onions that do not have a sticker or packaging showing the origins of the produce.

Consumers should wash surfaces and containers the contaminated onions (or those they are unsure of) may have touched with hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher.

The CDC describes symptoms of Salmonella as including cramps; diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees, diarrhea that lasts more than three days and isn't improving or bloody diarrhea; so much vomiting that you can't keep food down; signs of dehydration such as not urinating enough, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing.

Symptoms usually start six hours to six days after swallowing the bacteria. People with weakened immune systems, the elderly and children younger than 5 may have more severe symptoms that require medical treatment or hospitalization, the CDC said.

There may be other residents in other states who have been affected but many people recover without medical care or recent illnesses may not yet be reported, the CDC said. It takes "3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak," the agency said.

The illnesses started on dates ranging from May 31 to Sept. 30, the CDC said, with ages ranging from 1 year to 97; the median age is 37, and 57% of those ill are female. No deaths have been reported.