Tainted cantaloupe sickens 141 in 20 states

Aug 17, 2012 (CIDRAP News) -- State and federal officials are investigating a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that has been linked to cantaloupe and has so far sickened 141 people in 20 states, with two fatal cases in Kentucky.

Fifty of the infections have been reported in Kentucky, which also reported the two deaths. According to a statement from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), other affected states are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Kentucky officials said tests at the state public health lab found that Salmonella in the cantaloupe tested in the investigation matches the outbreak strain.

An epidemiologic investigation and lab confirmation suggest that the cantaloupe was grown in southwestern Indiana and purchased in Kentucky, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) said. The agency also said it is looking into other illness clusters in Kentucky that might be related to cantaloupe or watermelon.

The KDPH added that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are collaborating with state authorities on the investigation, including a trace back investigation of potentially contaminated melons.

The FDA said 31 patients were hospitalized.

The Indiana Department of Public Health (IDPH) said in a statement that 14 state residents are among the people sickened nationwide. It said it is investigating farms in the southwestern part of the state and that one farm has voluntarily agreed to issue a recall and stop shipping its cantaloupe.

Gregory Larkin, MD, Indiana's health commissioner, said in a statement that the investigation is ongoing, and authorities donÕt have a definitive source of the outbreak.

"We are working with other impacted states, as well as our federal partners to locate the source as quickly as possible. We will, of course, be sharing that information as it is learned," he said.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced today that at least three Minnesotans are part of the multistate outbreak, which involves Salmonella Typhimurium. It said the three patients ate cantaloupe the week before they got sick, between Jul 18 and 26. Two patients were older than 70, and one was a child. Two live in the Twin Cities area, and the third lives outstate. None of the three were hospitalized, and all have recovered.

Tennessee health officials have identified six illnesses linked to the outbreak, according to a statement today from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH). It said the patients are from several different counties and three of them were hospitalized.

See also:

Aug 17 KDPH statement

Aug 17 ISDH statement

Aug 17 MDH statement

Aug 17 TDH statement

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