The Indiana farm whose cantaloupes were deemed the likely source of a nationwide Salmonella Typhumurium outbreak last month is now the suspected source of at least one other Salmonella outbreak linked to its cantaloupes and may be ground zero for yet a third Salmonella outbreak tied to watermelons grown there.
In its first update on the S. Typhimurium outbreak in two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 36 more illnesses have been caused by this strain of the bacteria, bringing the case count in that outbreak up from 204 to 240 which is thought to have originated on cantaloupes grown by Chamberlain Farms of Owensville, IN.
And now CDC says that melons from the Chamberlain is likely causing another outbreak altogether. During its investigation at the farm, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collected samples of cantaloupe, one of which tested positive for a different strain of Salmonella — Salmonella Newport. That strain has now been linked to a separate cluster of 30 S. Newport infections that occurred between July 9 and August 18.
“Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by officials in local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies indicate that cantaloupes grown by Chamberlain Farms in Indiana are a likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections,” reported CDC Thursday.
Together, these two outbreaks linked to the farm have caused at least 270 illnesses in 26 states. Among the 196 people for whom information is available, 101 have been hospitalized.
The number of Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses by state is as follows: Alabama (16), Arkansas (6), California (2), Florida (1), Georgia (9), Iowa (10), Illinois (26), Indiana (24), Kentucky (70), Massachusetts (2), Maryland (1), Michigan (6), Minnesota (5), Missouri (15), Mississippi (7), Montana (1), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (7), Ohio (6), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (5), Tennessee (8), Texas (2) and Wisconsin (6).
Those sickened by this outbreak strain range in age from less than 1 year old to 100 years old.
Three people died as a result of their infections. All deaths occurred in Kentucky.
The newly reported Salmonella Newport outbreak has sickened 30 people in 7 states, including Illinois (8), Indiana (9), Michigan (1), Missouri (6), Ohio (3), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (2).
Patients in this outbreak range from 4 years old to 80 years old.
But these combined 270 cases may not be the only Salmonella infections of last month linked to produce from Chamberlain. On Monday FDA announced that the farm was recalling all of its watermelons from this growing season because a strain of Salmonella Newport was found in a sample of the fruit collected by the State of Indiana.
Now genetic analysis of that sample has revealed that it has a different pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern from the strain of Salmonella Newport isolated from the farm’s cantaloupes, but were indistinguishable from a strain of the bacteria that had sickened 25 people in 8 states.
Investigators are still working to figure out whether Chamberlain’s watermelons were a common source of exposure among victims of this illness cluster, according to the CDC report.
FDA announced a recall of Chamberlain Farms’ cantaloupes August 22. Customers are urged to discard these melons, which were shipped to retail locations in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin, although further shipment was likely.
Watermelons subject to recall are known to have been sold at Schnucks, Logli and Hilander stores. Those sold outside Indiana are marked with a sticker reading “Indian Hills – Product of USA.”
Chamberlain Farms’ watermelons sold at Schnucks’ five Indiana locations do not have a sticker. Customers who bought watermelons without a sticker at these stores or with a sticker outside Indiana should return them for a full refund.
For more information on the recalls linked to these outbreaks, see:© Food Safety News