The Department for Public Health (DPH) has reported that cantaloupes tested in the Kentucky state public health laboratory carry the same strain of Salmonella associated with a statewide outbreak that health officials say is still ongoing.
The salmonellosis outbreak, which has sickened at least 50 Kentuckians and been associated with two deaths, began in early July. Through an epidemiological investigation and confirmatory lab testing, Kentucky public health officials determined that cantaloupes, which evidence indicates were grown in southwestern Indiana but purchased in Kentucky, carried the same strain of Salmonella determined to be the cause of an ongoing outbreak of infection. Salmonellosis cases caused by the outbreak strain have also been reported in other states. In addition, investigation is also continuing into other clusters of salmonella cases in Kentucky, which may be linked to cantaloupe or watermelon consumption.
“Foodborne illness is a serious threat to public health. Consumers are advised to avoid eating cantaloupes from southwestern Indiana, especially if they are at heightened risk for complications from salmonella infection,” says acting Public Health Commissioner Steve Davis, M.D. “In addition, healthcare providers are encouraged to be mindful of patients who may have symptoms consistent with salmonellosis and report all cases to the local health department.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is collaborating with public health officials in affected states 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 have been contaminated. A likely source of the outbreak is cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana region and distributed to stores in Kentucky. No Kentucky-grown cantaloupes have been associated with this outbreak.