Worry Mounts Over Salmonella Infections From Yellow Maradol Papayas

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of people in the Tri-State Area have fallen sick from salmonella linked to papayas.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, cases in New York state have nearly tripled since the tainted fruit first arrived in mid-July from Mexico.

Jack Aikin, 11, likes papayas a lot – CBS2’s McLogan found him shaking one as he sang the Calypso song, “Shake the Papaya Down.” But he has been warned by his parents to hold off on munching down on his favorite fruit.

Papayas have now been lifted from local menus while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks a salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 100 people nationwide. Dozens fell ill in the New York metro area, and one person died in New York City.

“Oh no!” said Kathryn Hoxie of Huntington, Long Island. “You know, we turn to fruit because it’s, you know, it’s from the earth, and so we look to fruits and vegetables for health.”

The Food and Drug Administration has traced the outbreak to a farm in southern Mexico, on the Gulf side of the Yucatan Peninsula.

So far, the Caribeña, Valery, and Cavi brands of maradol papayas have been recalled.

Maradol papaya has green skin that turns yellow when the fruit is ripe, and the flesh inside is salmon colored.

“I love papaya; a papaya milkshake, but like hearing after that, like, I don’t know if I should have them anymore,” said David Gomez of Westbury, Long Island.

It is suspected that the initial contamination came from a sick farm worker handling the shipments.

Most people infected with salmonella develop symptoms of diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours of being exposed to the bacteria. The disease can be spread easily, according to infectious disease experts.

“It could be carried on your hands and goes to the next family member, or gets transmitted in food preparation even in the home, so hand hygiene is very important,” said Dr. Bruce Polsky of NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola.

Salmonella usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

In some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In rarer cases, a salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

The Centers for Disease Control now recommends that “consumers not eat, restaurants not serve, and retailers not sell” maradol papayas from Mexico.

For more information on the outbreak from the CDC, CLICK HERE.

More From CBS New York

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
Get Our Morning Briefs
Bloomberg WCBS Tri-State Business Index

Watch & Listen LIVE