State and federal officials in the United States and Canada are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella infections traced to cantaloupes.

In the United States, 43 people have been confirmed as patients. The outbreak is spread across 15 states. At least 17 people have been so sick they required hospitalization. As of the posting of the outbreak notice on Nov. 17, no one has died.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the outbreak a few days after Canadian officials reported an outbreak of eight patients in British Columbia. Both outbreaks are traced to cantaloupe imported from Mexico.

The same cantaloupes initially marketed under the Malichita brand are implicated in both countries. Cantaloupes sold under that brand have been recalled in both countries. Click here for information on the U.S. recall, which includes recall information from Sofia Produce LLC, doing business as Trufresh. Click here for information on the Canadian recall

Laboratory testing in both countries shows that cantaloupes are making people sick. Illnesses in the United States started on Oct. 17. The most recent patient to be confirmed in the United States became sick on Nov. 6.

“The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak,” according to the outbreak notice from the U.S. CDC.

Laboratory samples from sick people have been tested using whole genome sequencing (WGS), and the results show that the same strain of Salmonella is making people sick. According to the CDC, the lab results also suggest that a single food source is responsible for the illnesses.

“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency found Salmonella in a sample of Malachite brand cantaloupe, and WGS showed that the Salmonella on the cantaloupe is closely related genetically to the bacteria from sick people in Canada. This suggests that people in the Canadian and U.S. outbreaks likely got sick from eating cantaloupe,” according to the U.S. CDC.

The implicated cantaloupe includes fresh fruit and whole cantaloupes in the United States. Some of the fresh-cut products do not expire until Nov. 22.

Recalls of the following whole cantaloupes and fresh-cut products include:

Whole cantaloupes

  • It might have a sticker that says “Malichita,” “4050”, and “Product of Mexico/produit du Mexique”
  • Sold in many states between October 16 and October 23, 2023
  • See recall notice
    and expanded recall

Vinyard brand pre-cut cantaloupes

  • Includes cantaloupe cubes, melon medleys, and fruit medleys
  • Sold in Oklahoma stores between Oct. 30 and Nov. 10, 2023
  • Most have a yellow label with “Vinyard,” and some have a red label with “Fresh”
  • Some do not expire until Nov. 22
  • See recall notice

ALDI whole cantaloupe and pre-cut fruit products

  • Includes whole cantaloupes, cantaloupe chunks in clamshell packaging, and pineapple spears in clamshell packaging
  • Best-by dates between Oct. 27 and Oct. 31, 2023
  • Sold in ALDI stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin
  • See recall notice  

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten recalled fruit and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

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