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A twenty-state outbreak of the foodborne illness Salmonella has recently caused the deaths of two people and illness in 141 people.  The outbreak has been linked to a contaminated strain of cantaloupe. State and federal agencies are investigating.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, 50 infections have been reported in Kentucky, where both reported deaths occurred.  Other states that have been affected thus far are Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Investigators have determined that the Salmonella in the cantaloupe matches the outbreak strain and believe the contaminated cantaloupe was grown in southwestern Indiana.  The Indiana Department of Public Health is currently investigating farms in the southwestern part of the state.  One such farm has voluntarily agreed to a recall and offered to stop shipping its cantaloupe. 

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is also investigating whether clusters of infection in Kentucky may be related to cantaloupe or watermelon.  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Food and Drug Administration, is working with state authorities in an effort to trace back the source of the contaminated melons and eliminate this recent strain of foodborne illness.

For more information, contact the Ohio foodborne illness attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List.

Source: Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, “Tainted cantaloupe sickens 141 in 20 states,” Lisa Schnirring, August 17, 2012.