U.S. health officials are investigating red onions in connection to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has caused nearly 400 cases across 34 states, including Arizona.

The outbreak has infected 14 people in Arizona with a strain called salmonella Newport, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Food and Drug Administration, CDC and other state and local health officials are tracking the outbreak that has been tied to red, white, yellow and sweet onions from Thomson International Inc. 

Consumers and retailers should steer away from eating and buying onions from Thomson International Inc., or any products made with them, the CDC said.

According to the CDC, some people infected by the strain reported eating raw onions in freshly prepared foods like salads, sandwiches, salsas and dip.

“If you can’t tell where your onions are from, don’t eat them. Throw them away,” the CDC said.

Additionally, people should wash all countertops or surfaces that may have come in contact with onions. 

There have been 396 reported cases and 59 hospitalizations. Oregon has the highest number of infections with 71, while Utah has the second-highest with 61 confirmed ill.

The numbers could be higher, since an illness might not be reported for an average of 2 to 4 weeks after getting sick, according to the CDC.

CDC information on salmonella:

  • People infected with salmonella can develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps six hours to six days after being exposed to the bacteria.
  • The illness lasts around four to seven days. Most recover without treatment. 
  • For some people, the illness may be severe enough for hospitalization. Salmonella infection could spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then other parts of the body.
  • A severe illness is more likely for children younger than 5 years old, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems.

CDC recommendations on how to prevent salmonella infection:

  • Wash hands and surfaces often, and wash fruits and vegetables before peeling, cutting and eating.
  • Keep food that remains uncooked like fresh fruit, salads and deli meat separate from raw meat.
  • Cook food to a temperature high enough to kill the germs. 
  • Keep perishable foods refrigerated within two hours, or one hour if it’s 90 degrees or warmer outside.

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