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News / Nation & World

Hundreds sickened, 10 die from salmonella linked to cantaloupes

By JONEL ALECCIA, Associated Press
Published: December 18, 2023, 8:31pm

Hundreds of people in the U.S. and Canada have been sickened and at least 10 people have died in a growing outbreak of salmonella poisoning linked to contaminated whole and pre-cut cantaloupe.

Health officials are warning consumers, retailers and restaurants not to buy, eat or serve cantaloupe if they don’t know the source.

That’s especially important for individuals who are vulnerable to serious illness from salmonella infection and those who care for them. High-risk groups include young children, people older than 65 and those with weakened immune systems.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is especially concerned because many of the illnesses have been severe and because victims include people who ate cantaloupe served in child care centers and long-term care facilities.

Here’s what we know about this outbreak:

How many people have been sickened in the cantaloupe salmonella outbreak?

Overall, at least 302 people in the U.S. and 153 in Canada have been sickened in this outbreak. That includes four killed and 129 hospitalized in the U.S. and six killed and 53 hospitalized in Canada.

When did the cantaloupe outbreak begin?

The first U.S. case was a person who fell ill on Oct. 16, according to the CDC. The latest illness detected occurred on Nov. 28. Canadian health officials said people fell ill between mid-October and mid-November.

The first recalls were issued Nov. 6 in the U.S., according to the Food and Drug Administration. More recalls of the fruit followed.

Where did the cantaloupes come from?

The cantaloupes implicated in this outbreak include two brands, Malichita and Rudy, that are grown in the Sonora area of Mexico. The fruit was imported by Sofia Produce LLC, of Nogales, Ariz., which does business as TruFresh, and Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC, of Los Angeles. So far, more than 36,000 boxes or cases of cantaloupe have been recalled.

On Dec. 15, Mexican health officials temporarily closed a melon-packing plant implicated in the outbreak.