Salmonella-Tainted Cantaloupe Has Killed 4 in U.S., With More Than 300 Known Cases

Salmonella-Tainted Cantaloupe Has Killed 4 in U.S., With More Than 300 Known Cases
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Key Takeaways

  • An outbreak of salmonella tied to tainted cantaloupes has now risen to 302 known U.S. cases, including four deaths

  • Numerous brands are implicated, and the federal officials urge people not to eat pre-cut cantaloupe if they do not know the brand

  • The elderly in nursing homes and small children are especially at risk from this potentially severe illness

TUESDAY, Dec. 19, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Cases keep rising in an outbreak of salmonella illness tied to cantaloupes that began last month, with 302 people now sickened across 42 states, federal officials said.

As of Dec. 15, four people had died and 129 had been hospitalized in the outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in its latest update

In Canada, 153 cases linked to the same outbreak were reported by Dec. 15, including 53 hospitalizations and six deaths, health officials there stated.

While salmonella can make anyone sick, illnesses in this outbreak have been particularly severe, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted in its own update. The old and very young appear to be especially at risk.

"Adults 65 and older, children under 5 years, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to get very sick from Salmonella," the CDC said. "In this outbreak, 40 sick people resided in long-term care facilities and 30 children attended childcare centers before they got sick."

The CDC's main advice: Although two brands of cantaloupes -- Malichita and Rudy -- are known to be linked to the outbreak, do not eat any cantaloupe if you do not know the brand being sold or served.

Given the number of cases observed among the elderly and children, the "CDC [also] advises facilities that care for people who are at higher risk for severe illness to not serve cantaloupes that may be contaminated," the agency said. "This includes recalled cantaloupes and cantaloupe that was supplied pre-cut if the brand of whole cantaloupes used are not known."

The outbreak was first reported Nov. 14. The CDC has stressed that the true number of illnesses is likely far higher than announced, because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for salmonella.

Consumers should continue to stay away from whole cantaloupes sold under the brands Malichita or Rudy.

The CDC also said the recall now includes pre-cut cantaloupe sold at major grocery stores Kroger, Trader Joe's and Sprouts Farmers Market.

One more brand was added to the list since the last FDA update: "Stop & Shop initiated a recall of TruFresh cantaloupe that was purchased between the dates of Oct. 23 – Nov. 11, 2023," the FDA noted.

Consumers should also refrain from buying pre-cut cantaloupe sold at ALDI, Cut Fruit Express, KwikTrip, TGD Cuts, Vinyard and Bix Produce, the agency said. 

It also said consumers should RaceTrac fruit medley,  as well as Freshness Guaranteed products, which are sold at Walmart, the agency said.

The CDC has advised people to throw away recalled fruit or return it to the store for a refund. Afterwards, wash anything that has touched the recalled fruit.

Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps in most cases, with symptoms setting in anywhere from six hours to six days after eating contaminated food, the CDC said.

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these severe salmonella symptoms:

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees

  • Diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving

  • Bloody diarrhea

  • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down

  • Not peeing much

  • Dry mouth and throat

  • Dizziness when standing up

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on salmonella.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news releases and online updates, Dec. 15, 2023

What This Means For You

To avoid salmonella, don't eat cantaloupe from two brands linked to the ongoing outbreak -- Malichita and Rudy -- as well as any cantaloupe whose brand is unknown.

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