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Deadly Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Cantaloupe: What You Need to Know

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Anthony Raphael
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Deadly Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Cantaloupe: What You Need to Know

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Overview of the Outbreak

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A recent outbreak of salmonella linked to tainted cantaloupes has resulted in significant health concerns in both the U.S. and Canada. To date, eight deaths have been reported, three in the U.S. and five in Canada. The outbreak has caused numerous illnesses, with at least 230 reported cases in the U.S. and 129 in Canada. Health officials have issued warnings against consuming cantaloupe if the source is unknown and have announced recalls of whole and pre-cut fruit products containing cantaloupe. The investigation is ongoing to determine if additional products are linked to the illnesses.

The Danger of Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause serious illness, particularly in young children, people over 65, and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms usually start 12 to 72 hours after infection and can include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. In some cases, the infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other parts of the body, which can lead to death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

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CDC's Urgent Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urgently advising consumers to avoid certain cantaloupe products, including some fruit cups, due to the growing outbreak of salmonella infections. The outbreak appears to be linked to Malichita or Rudy brand cantaloupes, with at least 117 people in 34 states getting sick, 61 hospitalized, and two deaths. The CDC advises against eating any cantaloupe or cantaloupe product that may have come from these two brands.

Recall of Pre-Cut Cantaloupe

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Nine companies have recalled pre-cut cantaloupe products and other fruit medleys that may have used or touched Malichita or Rudy cantaloupes. The recalled product includes pre-cut cantaloupe sold at major grocery stores like Kroger, Trader Joe's, and Sprouts Farmers Market. U.S. health officials have ordered sweeping recalls of potentially contaminated whole and pre-sliced cantaloupes, urging consumers to toss out any products containing the melon.

Guidelines for Consumers

Health officials warn consumers to steer clear of pre-cut cantaloupe if they are unsure of whether it is from a distributor whose product has been recalled. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consumers to toss out any cantaloupe that cannot be identified by brand and to wash any surfaces that may have come into contact with the cantaloupe. The CDC is particularly concerned about the salmonella outbreak as the illnesses are severe, affecting people in long-term care facilities and childcare centers, and advises these facilities to not serve cantaloupes that may be contaminated.

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