Toll in Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak Passes 200

The illness toll in the cantaloupe Salmonella outbreak now exceeds 200, according to United States health officials. The strain involved is Salmonella Tynphimurium.

The states involved are up to 22; at least 78 people have been hospitalized. Two people, both reported in Kentucky, have died, said NBC News. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the breakdown of states and related illnesses is: Alabama (13), Arkansas (5), California (2), Florida (1), Georgia (4), Illinois (24), Indiana (22), Iowa (8), Kentucky (63), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (6), Minnesota (5), Mississippi (5), Missouri (13), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (5), Ohio (5), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (8), Texas (2), and Wisconsin (4).

The ongoing and growing outbreak is believed linked to cantaloupes produced by Chamberlain Farms Produce, Inc. of Owensville, Indiana, according to regulatory agencies and public health officials at the federal, local, and state levels, said NBC News. The recall was announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 22. Based on available information, said NBC News, the melons were shipped to Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. As we’ve mentioned, further shipment was likely.

Meanwhile, we just wrote that the first lawsuit was filed in the ongoing outbreak. In this first lawsuit, a Michigan woman 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 Associated Press (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.

Officials from the FDA, the CDC, and the state of Indiana briefed Chamberlain Farms on the status of the investigation; Chamberlain Farms then issued a recall of its cantaloupe from the market following its decision to withdraw the fruit from the market and to stop distributing cantaloupes for the remainder of the growing season.

FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess told the AP that Chamberlain Farms may not be the only outbreak source.

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.

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