November 28, 2014

Final Update of Salmonella Infections Linked to Chamberlain Farms Cantaloupe

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its final update on the Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Newport outbreak linked to cantaloupe from Chamberlain Farms of Owensville, Indiana. The outbreak appears to be over. A total of 261 people were infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Typhimurium (228 people), and Salmonella Newport (33 people) in 24 states.

The case count per state is as follows: Alabama (25), Arkansas (6), Florida (1), Georgia (13), Illinois (36), Indiana (30), Iowa (9), Kentucky (66), Maryland (1), Michigan (8), Minnesota (2), Mississippi (7), Missouri (17), Montana (1), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (5), Ohio (5), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (4), Tennessee (8), Texas (2), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (9). The numbers declined after the last report since a second test called the Multiple-Locus Variable-number tandem repeat Analysis (MVLA) was used in addition to the standard PFGE data to define the outbreak strains.

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Illness onset dates ranged from July 6, 2012 to September 16, 2012. The age range was less than 1 year to 100 years, with a median age of 47 years. Fifty-five percent of ill persons were female. Among 163 people who gave information to public health authorities, 84, or 51%, were hospitalized. Three people in Kentucky died as a result of this outbreak. National food safety lawyer Fred Pritzker said, “we need appropriate control measures and the industry hasn’t delivered. How many more people have to die before we address this hazard?”

Laboratory tests found the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium from two cantaloupes collected form a retail facility in Kentucky. Traceback investigation found that the fruit came from Chamberlain Farms. Samples collected from surface areas at the farm and from cantaloupe taken from the farm found Salmonella Typhimurium bacteria with the same DNA fingerprint as the outbreak strain. The government also found Salmonella Newport at the farm with a PFGE pattern that was “indistinguishable from the cluster of Salmonella Newport infections.”

An FDA investigation at Chamberlain Farms found significant food safety violations, including food contact surfaces that were not cleanable, rust and corrosion on equipment, dirty conveyer rollers and belts, a rusty water supply line, and garbage in the area that was a breeding place for pests.

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