As if dealing with outbreaks of swine flu and West Nile weren’t enough, state and federal health officials are now advising all Hoosiers to discard cantaloupes purchased after July 7 following an outbreak of salmonellosis, which has sickened 14 Hoosiers and approximately 150 people nationwide.
According to the State Department of Health, farms in Southwest Indiana, as well as distributors and retailers, are being investigated as possible sources of the outbreak. One farm has voluntarily agreed to do a market withdrawal and will be stopping the shipment of all cantaloupes as a precaution.
State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin is advising all Hoosiers to throw away any cantaloupes recently purchased as a precaution. He says because the investigation is still ongoing and no definitive source for the outbreak has been found, it is better to be safe than sorry. He says the department is working with other impacted states and federal partners to locate the source as quickly as possible.
Most persons infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, some individuals may require hospitalization from severe diarrhea. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites. It can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to become severely ill from salmonella infection.
The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the outbreak in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indiana State Department of Health, and affected other states, including tracing the source of the affected melons and shipments of melons that may have been contaminated.