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Bagged salad mixes sold at Walmart and other stores are linked with an outbreak of intestinal illness in eight Midwestern states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
More than 200 people in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin who reported eating the salad mix have come down with cyclosporiasis, an illness caused by a microscopic parasite.
At least 23 people have been hospitalized, the CDC said Monday. No deaths have been reported.
The salads contain iceberg lettuce, carrots and red cabbage, and were produced by Illinois-based Fresh Express.
Besides Walmart, the recalled salads were sold at Aldi, Hy-Vee and Jewel-Osco in the Midwest.
People who were sickened range from 16 to 92 years old. They started becoming ill between May 11 and June 17.
Donald Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., told the New York Times that the outbreak is likely due to the water used to irrigate the produce.
"It probably has something to do with human fecal contamination of that water, but of course there's a whole lot of unknowns," Schaffner said. "Very often with these fresh produce outbreaks, we never learn the definitive cause."
The CDC said consumers and retailers in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin should not eat, sell or serve the following recalled bagged salad mixes:
- Marketside brand Classic Iceberg Salad, 12- and 24-ounce bags, sold at Walmart stores in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, with use-by dates of May 19 through July 4.
- Little Salad Bar brand Garden Salad, 12-ounce bags, sold at Aldi stores in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, with use-by dates of May 1 through June 29.
- Hy-Vee brand Garden Salad, 12-ounce bags, sold at Hy-Vee stores in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, with any use-by date.
- Jewel-Osco Signature Farms brand Garden Salad, 12-ounce bags, sold at Jewel-Osco stores in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, with use-by dates of May 16 through July 4.
Consumers should check their homes for the salads and throw out any remaining salad, even if some has been eaten and no one has gotten sick, the CDC advised.
People in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin who don't know if bagged salad mixes in their home are among the recalled salads should throw them away.
Antibiotics can treat the illness, but most healthy people recover on their own, according to the agency.
Symptoms of cyclosporiasis begin an average of seven days after swallowing the infective form of the parasite, and usually include watery diarrhea. Also common are loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. Some people may vomit or develop a low-grade fever, according to the CDC.
-- Robert Preidt
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