At least 20 people are sick with Salmonella Newport infections linked to pre-cut watermelon and cantaloupe that was sold up to and including today at various grocery stores. State and federal officials are trying to determine what company supplied the fruit and whether any is still on store shelves.
Anyone who bought pre-cut watermelon or cantaloupe — or mixed fresh fruit products containing watermelon or cantaloupe — in Washington or Oregon is urged to throw it away, according to an alert from the Washington Department of Health.
Other than a rough range of purchase dates, the department did not provide any descriptions or details that can be used to identify the implicated products. The department did not report how officials had connected the infected people with the fruit.
“People who purchased these products on or about Oct. 25 up to Dec. 1 from QFC, Fred Meyer, Rosauers, and Central Market in Washington and Oregon are urged not to eat the fruit and throw it away,” according to the state health department.
The department is working with state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to determine the source of the fruit, including where it was cut and packaged. As of tonight, it was not known if any other retailers or other commercial operations received any of the implicated fruit.
“The FDA is aware of the Salmonella outbreak in Washington and is working with state and local officials, as well as other federal agencies, to lend support as needed,” an FDA spokesman told Food Safety News today.
“The outbreak investigation is being led by the Washington State Department of Health, and the FDA remains committed to helping however we can to identify the food and recall the potentially affected products. At this time, the epidemiological and traceback investigations, led by Washington, are ongoing.”
Two of the 20 lab-confirmed outbreak victims are from Oregon. The Washington counties involved as of tonight, and the number of confirmed cases of salmonellosis in each, are: King 5; Mason 1; Pierce 1; Snohomish 7; Thurston 1; and Yakima 1.
Lab results identified Salmonella Newport as the cause, according to the health department. Anyone who has eaten any pre-cut fruit that included watermelon or cantaloupe and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should immediately seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the pathogen.
Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, the infection can be fatal. Infants, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system are at greatest risk.
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