Test Confirms Sources of Salmonella-Tainted Cantaloupe

Although believed to be linked to a farm in Owensville, Indiana, a test just confirmed that the source of the ongoing Salmonella cantaloupe outbreak is Chamberlain Farms

A DNA test confirmed the link that sickened people in a 22-state outbreak that killed two people from Kentucky, said CBS/The Associated Press (AP), citing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Shelly Burgess, FDA spokeswoman, said that the Salmonella bacteria the agency collected from Chamberlain Farms is a match to the “DNA fingerprint” of the Salmonella strain linked to 200 illnesses. Of those sickened, 62 required hospitalization.

United States health officials say the strain involved is Salmonella Tynphimurium. The recall was announced by the FDA on August 22 and based on available information, the melons were shipped to Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. As we’ve mentioned, further shipment was likely.

Burgess continues to stress that federal and state agencies continue their investigation to determine if there are other potential sources in this outbreak. “Just because we’ve identified this as one source, things just don’t stop here,” she said. “We’re still assessing the full scope of this,” she added, said CBS/AP. Amy Reel, Indiana State Department of Health spokeswoman, indicated that samples have been collected from an array of southern Indiana farms and that FDA is handling sample analysis.

Meanwhile, we just wrote that the first lawsuit was filed in the ongoing outbreak and involved a Michigan woman who filed a lawsuit against Walmart for selling the cantaloupe. According to Angela Compton of Battle Creek, Michigan, who purchased three cantaloupes on July 12 from her local Walmart, the fruit sickened both of her children who were hospitalized and tested positive for the Salmonella pathogen. The lawsuit was filed in Calhoun County Circuit Court in Michigan.

Walmart told Bloomberg.com that it had begun contacting its outlets late last week to remove cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana. Also, Tim Chamberlain of Chamberlain Farms of Owensville, Indiana, said he voluntarily stopped production on August 16, adding that he has had no other issues at the farm since it opened in 1982, said the AP. The agency advised Chamberlain Farms on August 16 that his cantaloupes posed a potential health risk. According to Chamberlain, he is not aware of the what caused the outbreak.

The FDA warns consumers against eating the recalled cantaloupe, to discard any cantaloupe from Chamberlain Farms, and to speak to their retailers to determine if their cantaloupe was grown on the Owensville, Indiana farm. If consumers believe they are in possession of the recalled cantaloupe, they are advised against washing Salmonella off of the fruit; Salmonella may be on both the skin and inside of the cantaloupe and cutting, slicing, and dicing the fruit may transfer harmful bacteria from the surface of the cantaloupe into its flesh.

Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces, according to the Mayo Clinic, said CBS/AP.

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