Salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe consumption
The CDC is working with other federal, state and local health officials in affected states to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that has infected 178 individuals nationwide since July 7.
Salmonellosis is an illness that can cause serious infections in otherwise healthy individuals according to Dean Sienko, Interim Chief Medical Executive at Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness generally last four to seven days with most people recovering without treatment.
Young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable and more likely to have a severe illness. Children are most likely to get salmonellosis with children under five having the highest infection rate of any age group.
Of the 178 cases currently identified nationwide, 62 have required hospitalization with two individuals in Kentucky reported to have died. There may be additional cases identified as illnesses that occurred after July 31 may have not yet been reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The six confirmed Michigan cases include three children and three adults. The onset of their illness ranged from mid-to-late July with one individual requiring hospitalization.
As explained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this particular outbreak appears to have originated with cantaloupe grown at a southwestern Indiana farm. On Aug. 22, Chamberlain Farms Produce,Inc. of Owensville, Indiana voluntarily recalled its cantaloupe and agreed to cease distribution of cantaloupe grown on their farm for the rest of the growing season. Individuals who recently purchased cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana are advised to not eat them and to dispose of them.
Kevin Besey, director ofMichigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Food and Dairy division, said that many cantaloupes will have a sticker identifying their growing area. If no sticker is present, customers are advised to ask the grocer where the melons were purchased. If the source of the melons cannot be determined, the safest course of action is to not purchase or eat that melon. At this time, health officials assure consumers that it is safe to purchase and consume cantaloupes that did not originate from southwestern Indiana.
The FDA offers food safety tips for handling and consuming fresh produce:
- Rinse raw produce thoroughly under running water before cutting, cooking or eating. Even if the produce will be peeled, it should be washed first as the salmonella bacteria may be on the outside as well as the inside of the produce.
- Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush.
- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
- When selecting pre-cut produce (bagged salad greens, pieces of watermelon, etc.) choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
- Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when taking them home from the store.
- Keep your refrigerator clean and make sure it maintains a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Related Michigan State University (MSU) Extension article: “Melons: Prepare and store properly for safe consumption”