The Salmonella outbreak traced to cantaloupe that sickened more than 400 and killed six in the Unites States has been declared over.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention closed its investigation today, as did the Food and Drug Administration. The outbreak stretched across 44 states and sickened 407 people. Six deaths were reported. The CDC first reported the outbreak on Nov. 17.

Of the 362 patients with information available, 158 were hospitalized. This 44 percent hospitalization rate is higher than in most Salmonella outbreaks, suggesting a particularly virulent strain of the pathogen.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from Oct. 15, 2023, to Dec. 25, 2023. State and local public health officials interviewed people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. Of the 197 people interviewed, 135 reported eating cantaloupe.

The patients ranged from less than 1 year old to to 100 years, with a median age of 60. An unusually high percentage of the patients were 5 years or younger, with 26 percent of patients reported in that age group. Forty-seven percent of the patients were 65 years old or older.

The CDC reports that many more people were likely part of the outbreak but are not reflected in the official patient count. This is because many people do not seek medical attention and those who do are often not specifically tested for Salmonella infection. For every person confirmed as a patient in a Salmonella outbreak, the CDC says another 29 patients go unidentified. This means as many as 11,800 patients or more could have been part of this outbreak.

It was determined that Rudy and Malichita whole cantaloupe from Mexico were the problem. They were recalled.

Numerous cantaloupe and cantaloupe products were recalled in relation to the outbreak. There is a list of those products on FDA’s cantaloupe recall website

There is some concern that some consumers may have frozen cantaloupe pieces for future use. The CDC recommends that any cantaloup of unknown origin be thrown away.

Canadian outbreak
A simultaneous outbreak in Canada had sickened 164 people as of the most recent update on Dec. 22. Sixty-one of the patients have required hospitalization and seven have died.

The same brand of cantaloupe in Canada as in the United States has been implicated in the outbreak, Rudy and Malichita whole cantaloupe. As was the case in the United States, numerous freshcut cantaloupe products have been recalled because they were made with the recalled cantaloupe.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella from patients in Canada matches samples taken from patients in the United States. In Canada most of the patients were younger than 5 years or 65 and older.

The outbreak investigation in Canada is ongoing.

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