New Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Cantaloupes Cited in 2 Deaths, 141 Illnesses

A new Salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupes has led to two deaths and 141 illnesses. The southwestern Indiana farm, which remains unnamed, is removing its cantaloupes from the stream of commerce, said Newsday.

Initial investigations by state health departments led the farm to contact distributors and withdraw its cantaloupes from the marketplace, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wrote Newsday. The unnamed farm agreed to withdraw the produce from the remainder of its growing season.

Of the 141 ill, 31 required hospitalized, said the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). New York had no illnesses, to date, said Newsday and Kentucky reported the most: 50. According to the CDC, 20 states have been impacted by the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak, including: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The CDC advises retailers and food service operators not to sell or serve cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana and advises that it and the FDA are collaborating with state partners during the continuing investigation.

The CDC advised that consumers may continue to purchase and eat cantaloupes that did not originate in southwestern Indiana, noting that many cantaloupes bear stickers indicating the growing area. If a sticker is not present, consumers should speak to the retailer about the produce’s source and, if in doubt, discard the produce.

It can take between six and 72 hours from consumption of a contaminated product for the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning—salmonellosis—to appear. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Additional symptoms include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days. The illness usually lasts four to seven days; however, in some, the organism can invade the bloodstream, becoming so severe that hospitalization is required. Sometimes, infection with the Salmonella pathogen can result in, and produce more severe or chronic illnesses and can leave sufferers with serious life-long health issues.

One of the most common bacterial food borne illnesses, salmonellosis can be especially life threatening to those with weakened immune systems, such as infants; the elderly; and persons with compromised immune systems, such as people with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy.

The CDC noted that the illness onset dates range from July 7, 2012 to August 4, 2012 and those sickened range in age from less than 1 year of age to 92 years of age; the median age of those who have fallen ill is 49 years of years.

Meanwhile, noted Newsday, about one year ago 146 illnesses and 30 deaths were linked to Listeria-tainted cantaloupes grown in Colorado. In fact, we recently wrote that more cantaloupes were just recalled in response to a separate and potential Listeria contamination. Burch Equipment LLC, of North Carolina, expanded its recall to include all of this growing season’s cantaloupes and honeydew melons that may remain on the market, the FDA announced.

The CDC noted that early results of antibiotic susceptibility testing indicate that the strain of Salmonella Typhimurium connected to the current outbreak is susceptible to commonly used antibiotics and points out that there are no links between this outbreak and last year’s multi-state outbreak of Listeriosis connected with whole cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, Colorado.

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