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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Indiana Salmonella Cantaloupes Sickens 50 in Kentucky – 2 dead

Update

Nearly 150 Sick in 20 States total – 50 people in Kentucky, 14 in Indiana, 6 in Tennessee, 3 in Ohio and 3 in Minnesota – 31 hosptialized – more to be counted soon!

According to press reports, A Kentucky outbreak of Salmonella has been pinpointed to produce from southwestern Indiana. Cantaloupes are connected to the statewide Salmonellosis Outbreak. The public is advised to avoid eating melons grown in southwestern Indiana.

The Department for Public Health (DPH) today reported that cantaloupes tested in the state public health laboratory carry the same strain of Salmonella associated with a statewide outbreak that health officials say is still ongoing.

The salmonellosis outbreak, which has sickened at least 50 Kentuckians and been associated with two deaths, began in early July. Through an epidemiological investigation and confirmatory lab testing, Kentucky public health officials determined that cantaloupes, which evidence indicates were grown in southwestern Indiana but purchased in Kentucky, carried the same strain of Salmonella determined to be the cause of an ongoing outbreak of infection. Salmonellosis cases caused by the outbreak strain have also been reported in other states. In addition, investigation is also continuing into other clusters of salmonella cases in Kentucky, which may be linked to cantaloupe or watermelon consumption.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is collaborating with public health officials in affected states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the ongoing outbreak, including tracing the source of the affected melons and shipments of melons that may have been contaminated. A likely source of the outbreak is cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana region and distributed to stores in Kentucky. No Kentucky-grown cantaloupes have been associated with this outbreak.

It is not like this has not happened before.

A total of 147 persons infected with any of the four (4) outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes were reported to CDC from 28 states.  The number of infected persons identified in each state was as follows:  Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), California (4), Colorado (40), Idaho (2), Illinois (4), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (11), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (7), Montana (2), Nebraska (6), Nevada (1), New Mexico (15), New York (2), North Dakota (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (18), Utah (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (4).

Among persons for whom information was available, reported illness onset ranged from July 31, 2011 through October 27, 2011.  Ages ranged from <1 to 96 years, with a median age of 77 years.  Most cases were over 60 years old.  Fifty-eight percent (58%) of cases were female.  Among the 144 ill persons with available information on whether they were hospitalized, 142 (99%) were hospitalized.

Thirty-one deaths were reported:  Colorado (8), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (3), Montana (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (5), New York (2), Oklahoma (1), Texas (2), and Wyoming (1).  Among persons who died, ages ranged from 48 to 96 years, with a median age of 82.5 years.  In addition, one (1) woman pregnant at the time of illness had a miscarriage.  Seven (7) of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three (3) were diagnosed in newborns and four (4) were diagnosed in pregnant women.

Although the 2011 outbreak was the first known Listeria outbreak associated with cantaloupe, cantaloupe outbreaks are by no means a new phenomenon.  Since 1985, in fact, there have been at least 15 recognized cantaloupe outbreaks in the US, from both domestically and internationally grown cantaloupes:

No.

Year

State(s)

Confirmed

Illnesses

Pathogen

Description

1.

1985

Wisconsin

16

Campylobacter

Melon or cantaloupe

2.

1990

30 states

245

Salmonella

Cut cantaloupe at salad bars

3.

1991

International, including U.S.

400

Salmonella

Likely Mexican cantaloupe

4.

1997

California

24

Salmonella

Mexican cantaloupe.

5.

1998

Ontario, Canada

22

Salmonella

Cantaloupe

6.

1999

Iowa

61

Norovirus

Restaurant, cantaloupe or melon

7.

2000

California, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, New Mexico, Nevada

47

Salmonella

Mexican cantaloupe

8.

2001

Multi-state and International

50

Salmonella

Viva Brand cantaloupe

9.

2002

California, Minnesota, Oregon, Arkansas, Vermont, Nevada, Texas

58

Salmonella

Susie Brand cantaloupe

10.

2003

New York, Ohio, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Missouri

58

Salmonella

Day care center and private homes, cantaloupe/honeydew melon

11.

2006

Multi-State and International

41

Salmonella

Cantaloupe cut at processing facility in Canada

12.

2007

California

11

Salmonella

Private home

13.

2008

Multi-State

53

Salmonella

Agropecuraria Mobtelibano cantaloupe, from Honduras

14.

2008

California

23

Norovirus

Restaurant, melon and cantaloupe

15.

2011

Multi-State

20

Salmonella

Del Monte cantaloupe

 

  • Paul F Schwarz

    Are these growers the gang that can’t shot straight? Is there a competency test to grow cantaloupe? If there is Burch, Jensen and the latest ‘unnamed farm surely flunked. These ‘bad actors’ are giving the cantaloupe growers a bad name! I wonder when the last time a state or federal regulator was on the property of the ‘unnamed farm’
    The FMSA should be enacted now! The families of the Jensen Farms Listeria outbreak from 1 year ago can make a difference!
    Paul A Schwarz
    December 18, 2011
    Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3 Ft leavenworth/Leavenworth National Cemetery