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The number of people infected with Salmonella Typhimurium in the USA’s most recent produce-related outbreak has increased to 178, according to data released this morning by CDC. Sixty-two people have been hospitalized. The death toll remains at two – both of them from Kentucky.

Twenty-one states have reported at least one illness – up from the previous total of twenty. Salmonella Typhimurium infections due to the outbreak strain were documented in Alabama (13), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (3), Illinois (21), Indiana (18), Iowa (7), Kentucky (56), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (6), Minnesota (4), Mississippi (5), Missouri (12), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (3), Ohio (4), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (2), and Wisconsin (4).

Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. Cases reported by state (from CDC)

Investigations by CDC, FDA and local and state agencies have concluded that cantaloupe originating from Chamberlain Farm Produce, Inc. of Owensville, Indiana is a likely source of this outbreak. Late yesterday, Chamberlain Farm Produce, Inc. announced a voluntary recall of all of its cantaloupes from the 2012 growing season that may remain in the marketplace. This follows a prior market withdrawal of cantaloupes initiated by Chamberlain on August 16th and 17th.

Chamberlain’s cantaloupes were marketed to four retail grocery stores with outlets in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Gibson, and Dubois County, Indiana, and Wabash County, Illinois during the period of June 21, 2012 to August 16, 2012; four wholesale purchasers in Owensboro, Kentucky, St. Louis, Missouri, Peru, Illinois, and Durant, Iowa also procured cantaloupes from Chamberlain during that same period. According to FDA, the cantaloupes were initially shipped to Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin, with further distribution likely.

Although the names of the retail and wholesale consignees have not been released, Wal-Mart has been named as the source of cantaloupes consumed by two outbreak victims from one family in Michigan, and by one of the Mississippi outbreak victims.

While FDA and CDC have identified “a source” of this outbreak, the investigation is continuing in order to determine whether there are other possible sources. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium is a common one, and is typically the source of 10 to 15 “background” cases each month across the USA. Only 75% of the outbreak victims interviewed during the initial investigation reported having consumed cantaloupe before becoming ill.

Updated CDC Advice to Consumers, Retailers, and Others

Cantaloupe

Contaminated cantaloupe may still be in grocery stores and in consumers’ homes.

  • Consumers who recently purchased Chamberlain Farms cantaloupes are advised not to eat them and discard any remaining cantaloupe.
    • Based on the available information, consumers can continue to purchase and eat cantaloupes that did not originate from Chamberlain Farms Produce, Inc.
    • Many cantaloupes have the growing area identified with a sticker on the fruit. If no sticker is present, consumers should inquire about the source. When in doubt, throw it out.
    • Consumers who are buying or have recently bought cantaloupe should ask their retailer if the cantaloupe originated from Chamberlain Farms Produce, Inc.
  • Cantaloupes should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating them.
  • Dispose of any cantaloupes that you think may be contaminated. Washing them will not completely eliminate the contamination. Cutting, slicing and dicing may also transfer harmful bacteria from the fruit’s surface to the fruit’s flesh.
  • Retailers and food service operators should not sell or serve Chamberlain Farms cantaloupe.
  • Persons who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated cantaloupes should consult their health care providers.
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