Michigan salmonella cases linked to CDC investigation into tainted cantaloupes

6 cases in Michigan reported since national outbreak reported in July


LANSING, Mich. – State health officials in Michigan say Michigan is among the states that have been struck by a salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupes.

The Michigan departments of Community Health (MDCH), Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and local health departments are working with 19 other states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that has occurred since July 7, including six cases in Michigan.

Of the Michigan cases, three have occurred in children and three in adults. Illness onsets were from mid-to-late July, and there has been one known hospitalization.

"Salmonella is an illness that can cause serious infections in otherwise healthy individuals but especially children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems," said Dr. Dean Sienko, Interim Chief Medical Executive at MDCH. "We are urging Michigan residents to follow the guidance from MDCH and MDARD to protect their health and the health of their families."

Including the Michigan cases, there have been 141 cases nationwide linked to this investigation. Ill persons are reporting a high frequency of eating cantaloupes. Preliminary findings indicate that cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana is a likely source of this outbreak. MDARD is assisting in the investigation to further identify the distribution of the contaminated melons.

Anyone who recently purchased cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana is advised not to eat them and to dispose of them

A farm in southwestern Indiana is withdrawing its cantaloupe from the marketplace and has agreed to cease distributing them for the rest of the growing season.  Based on the available information, consumers can continue to purchase and eat cantaloupes that did not originate in southwestern Indiana. 

"Many cantaloupes have the growing area identified with a sticker on the fruit, but if no sticker is present, consumers should ask the grocer where the melons were purchased to identify the source," said Kevin Besey, director of MDARD's Food and Dairy Division.  "The best advice to follow is, ‘When in doubt, throw it out,' especially if you cannot determine where the melons were grown."

What is salmonella?

Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called salmonella. Most persons infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. The elderly, infants, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. Individuals who believe they may have become ill with salmonella should contact their health care provider.

Safety tips for fresh produce

  • Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if the produce will be peeled, it should still be washed first; 
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush;
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel;
  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged;
  • When selecting pre-cut produce — such as half a watermelon or bagged salad greens — choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice;
  • Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry, and seafood products when packing them to take home from the market; and,
  • Check that your refrigerator is clean and set at 40° F or below. 

More food safety tips can be found at www.foodsafety.gov

For more information about the national outbreak investigation, visit the CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-cantaloupe-08-12/index.html.