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Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Papayas Sickens More Than 100 People

It's the right time of year to enjoy delicious tropical fruit.

But for now, U.S. consumers should avoid Maradol papayas imported from Mexico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 100 people in 16 states have been sickened by strains of salmonella that U.S. health officials say are linked to the papayas.

Authorities are recommending that "consumers not eat, restaurants not serve, and retailers not sell Maradol papayas from Mexico until we learn more." When in doubt, throw it out, the CDC says.

At least one person, in New York City, is reported to have died and 35 people have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak.

New York state has seen the highest number of cases, with 36, followed by New Jersey, with 26. The outbreak has been documented in eastern and Midwestern states, and the first cases were reported in May.

"Among ill people, 63% are female. Among 74 people with available information, 50 (68%) are of Hispanic ethnicity," the CDC says. "Among 76 people with available information, 35 (46%) were hospitalized."

Two separate strains of salmonella bacteria have been detected — 48 people were reportedly infected with Salmonella kiambu and 61 with Salmonella thompson, according to the CDC.

The Food and Drug Administration says the tainted Maradol papayas have been linked to the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico. Three brands of the fruit have been recalled: "Caribeña brand, distributed by Grande Produce; certain Cavi brand papayas distributed by Agroson's; and Valery brand papayas, distributed by Freshtex Produce, LLC."

Maradol papayas are commonly grown in Mexico and have red or orange flesh and yellow or green skins. They can weigh more than 3 pounds.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, which usually appear 12-72 hours after exposure, according to the CDC.

Papayas from Mexico were also recalled in 2011 after a salmonella outbreak, as NPR's Shots blog reported.

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.