(WEAU) - Health departments across the country say they are investigating farms, distributors and retailers after an outbreak of salmonella that has killed 2 people and sickened at least 141 nationwide, was linked to cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection says you can figure out the region cantaloupe was grown by a sticker on the fruit. Otherwise, you can call the store you bought it from.
Salmonella infections result in diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says 31 people have been hospitalized in this outbreak that has hit 20 states.
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Press Release
MADISON – Illnesses in at least two people in Wisconsin are part of an ongoing multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections associated with cantaloupe likely from southwestern Indiana, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
Consumers should not eat cantaloupe from southwestern Indiana. The region of origin for cantaloupes is often provided on a sticker placed on the fruit. If no sticker is present, consumers should contact the store where they purchased the fruit to ask about the source.
DATCP is collaborating with Wisconsin Department of Health and public health officials in affected states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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 be contaminated.
Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Anyone who believes they may have become ill with Salmonella should contact their health care provider.
Based on the available information, consumers can continue to purchase and eat cantaloupes not originating from southwestern Indiana. Consumers should still take precautions and follow sanitation guidelines for safely handling melons as follows:
• Thoroughly wash, rinse and sanitize washing and cutting areas including cutting boards, knives, sinks and other equipment with a bleach/water mixture made from ½ teaspoon of non-scented bleach to a gallon of water.
• Wash the melon in cold water and rinse. A vegetable brush is recommended for cleaning the rough outer surface of cantaloupes. Do not use other cleaners or detergents.
• Immerse the melon in a sanitizing solution of bleach/water as noted above for at least 2 minutes. This treatment is meant for the skin of the melon only, not for the flesh.
• Wash hands and remove the melon. Discard sanitizing solution.
• Once the melon is cut, wrap the pieces in a sanitary and acceptable packaging material.
• Immediately refrigerate and hold melons at 41 degrees F or lower as bacteria can grow rapidly on cut melons.