Typhoid fever linked to smoothies

A rare US outbreak of typhoid fever has been linked to a frozen tropical fruit product used to make smoothies, health officials have reported.

Seven cases have been confirmed - three in California and four in Nevada. Two more California cases are being investigated. Five people were hospitalized, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The CDC said five of the victims drank milkshakes or smoothies made with frozen mamey fruit pulp. Four of them used pulp made by Goya Foods Inc of Secaucus, New Jersey.

Mamey is a sweet, reddish tropical fruit grown mainly in Central and South America. It is also known as zapote or sapote.

The company has recalled packages of the pulp, sold in mostly western states. A sample from one package found in Las Vegas tested positive for the bacteria that causes typhoid, the Food and Drug Administration reported on Wednesday.

No other food was linked to the illnesses, which occurred between April and July. The victims range in age from 4 to 31, said CDC spokeswoman Arleen Porcell-Pharr.

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by a type of bacteria called Salmonella typhi. It's become rare in the United States. There are only about 400 cases annually, and most people caught it while travelling abroad.

Symptoms include a sustained fever as high as 104 degrees (40degC), along with headache. weakness, stomach pains or loss of appetite. Some patients have a rash of flat, rose-coloured spots. It can be treated with antibiotics.

The disease is still common in the developing world. The bacteria passes through the intestinal tract and often spreads to others through faeces-tainted food or water.

The recalled mamey pulp was sold in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.

AP