The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially announced the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to cantaloupes grown in Indiana.The announcement comes over a month after people began getting sick from the melons.
“Every effort should be made to quickly determine the source of a Salmonella outbreak, and when a likely source is found, state and federal health officials should immediately alert the public,” said Fred Pritzker, national Salmonella lawyer and food safety advocate. “The primary goal should be prevention of illness.”
So far, 141 people are ill in 20 states; 31 are hospitalized, and two people in Kentucky have died. The case count by state is: Alabama (7), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (1), Illinois (17), Indiana (13), Iowa (7), Kentucky (50), Michigan (6), Minnesota (3), Missouri (9), Mississippi (2), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (1), and Wisconsin (2).
According to the epidemiological curve, at least 31 more people are projected to become ill in this particular outbreak. Illnesses that occurred after July 26, 2012 may not yet be reported to the government. It takes two to three weeks between when a person is diagnosed and when the illness is reported. This pattern of illness usually causes 10 to 15 new cases a month.
Illness onset dates range from July 7, 2012 to August 4, 2012. Patients range in age from less than 1 to 92 years, with a median age of 49. Fifty-five percent of patients are female. Among 64 patients who provided information, 31 (48%) are hospitalized. That means this is a virulent strain of the bacteria that can cause serious complications.
Public health officials interviewed 24 patients; eighteen of them, or 75%, reported eating cantaloupe in the week before their illness began. Preliminary results indicate that this strain of Salmonella is susceptible to antibiotics. There is no connection between this outbreak and last year’s multistate outbreak of listeriosis linked to Jensen Farms cantaloupe.
The symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The symptoms usually appear 12 to 72 hours after exposure. A Salmonella infection can spread to the bloodstream and can cause severe illness and even death if the patient is not treated with antibiotics.
The CDC says that anyone who purchased cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana should not eat them. Many cantaloupes have a sticker indicating where the fruit was grown. If there is no sticker, inquire about the source at your retailer. If the retailer isn’t sure where the cantaloupe was grown, throw it out. Dispose of the fruit in a closed plastic bag in a sealed trash can, so animals cannot eat it.
The government is trying to determine if other types of melons are linked to this outbreak. The farm where the fruit was grown and the grocery stores and other facilities that sold the melons have not yet been named.