Last fall, a salmonella outbreak traced back to cantaloupes sickened and ultimately killed people across several states, and it seems a new outbreak of the food-borne illness has again sickened several people in more than one state and deaths have resulted.
The current salmonella outbreak linked to affected cantaloupe has sickened more than 140 people, and at least two have died after consuming the fruits. But due to the nature of salmonella outbreaks and the difficulty in accurately measuring the number who have fallen ill from the bacteria, the true number of those sickened is likely to be far higher than the recorded numbers of illnesses and deaths.
The two deaths linked to salmonella contaminated cantaloupe occurred in Kentucky, where 50 of the illnesses were recorded and the outbreak was the most severe of any state. The affected cantaloupe is believed to have originated from a southwestern Indiana farm, but officials have not disclosed any further details about the cantaloupes’ origin — simply advising consumers to discard cantaloupes that may have grown in that region.
A salmonella infection sickens most of those infected for about a week — but in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, the very young, pregnant women and the immunocompromised, a salmonella infection may be far more serious and even lead to death. According to the Food and Drug Administration, 400 salmonella-related deaths per year are recorded in the United States alone.
The New York Times carried a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the agency explains:
“As a result of the initial investigations by the state health departments in Indiana and Kentucky, a farm in southwestern Indiana has contacted its distributors, which reach outside Indiana into other states, and is withdrawing its cantaloupe from the marketplace. The farm has agreed to cease distributing cantaloupes for the rest of the growing season.”
Last year’s outbreak of salmonella traced to cantaloupes from a farm in Colorado was linked to 29 deaths.