The number of patients in a Salmonella outbreak traced to cantaloupe has doubled since Nov. 30, and one more person has died.

As of today, Dec. 7, 230 people across 38 states have been infected. Of the people with information available, 96 have required hospitalization. Three people have died, two from Minnesota and one from Oregon. The outbreak strains of Salmonella are particularly virulent because Salmonella infections usually don’t require hospitalization.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from Oct. 16 to Nov. 20. The sick people range from less than 1 to 100 years old.

“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 today’s update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For every confirmed patient in a Salmonella outbreak, there are generally 28 unconfirmed cases. That means almost 6,500 people could be sick in this outbreak.

Public health officials at the state and local levels are interviewing patients. Of the 105 people interviewed, 78 reported eating cantaloupe before becoming ill. Of the 78 people who reported eating cantaloupe, 42 specifically reported eating pre-cut, and 18 reported eating whole cantaloupe.

There have been numerous recalls of whole and pre-cut cantaloupe. The FDA has a running list of those recalls on this page. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises consumers not to eat pre-cut cantaloupe.

Of those patients with information available, 24 reside at long-term facilities. Nine of the 12 interviewed reported eating cantaloupe. Another 23 patients in the outbreak were children who attended childcare centers. Of 20 with information available, 13 ate cantaloupe.

Information on this outbreak was first released on Nov. 17. 

There is a corresponding outbreak in Canada that stretches across seven provinces.

In Canada, as of Dec. 7, there have been 129 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella Soahanina, Sundsvall, and Oranienburg illness linked to this outbreak in the following provinces: British Columbia (15), Ontario (17), Quebec (91), Prince Edward Island (2), New Brunswick (2), and Newfoundland and Labrador (2). 

Individuals became sick between mid-October and mid-November. Forty-four individuals have been hospitalized. Five deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between less than 1 to 100 years of age.

The same brand of whole cantaloupe — Malichita — has been recalled in Canada and the United States. The cantaloupe was imported from Mexico.

Marler Clark has been in the lead for all the Cantaloupe Outbreaks Lawsuits over the last decades. Here is a sampling:

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 any cantaloupe 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 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.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News,click here)