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Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak Causes Two Deaths

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Department of Public Health has linked cantaloupes to an ongoing salmonella outbreak that has sickened 50 people in Kentucky and caused two deaths since early July, according to an agency health alert on Friday.

The Kentucky Department of Public Health didn’t name a supplier for the infected cantaloupe, but urged consumers to avoid eating cantaloupes from southwestern Indiana, where officials believe the tainted cantaloupe was sourced from.

“Foodborne illness is a serious threat to public health. Consumers are advised to avoid eating cantaloupes from southwestern Indiana, especially if they are at heightened risk for complications from salmonella infection,” said acting Public Health Commissioner Steve Davis, in media statement.  “In addition, healthcare providers are encouraged to be mindful of patients who may have symptoms consistent with salmonellosis and report all cases to the local health department.”

Read more: Cantaloupes Recalled for Listeria

The Kentucky agency is partnering with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the outbreak. The agency also noted the other states have reported illness from the same strain of salmonella, and the Kentucky Department of Public Health is working to investigate "other clusters of salmonella cases in Kentucky, which may be linked to cantaloupe or watermelon consumption."

Cantaloupe food safety has been a concern for the produce industry, which has been working on developing new guidance to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. Last year, a listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado caused 30 deaths and sickened 146 people. 

UPDATE: 5:30pm, Aug. 17

More states have reported illness linked to the salmonella strain associated with the Indiana cantaloupe on Friday.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reported that three people in Minnesota that became ill between July 18 and 26, Indiana’s Department of Health reported 14 illnesses, and the Tennessee Department of Health said it has indentified six cases related to the outbreak.

The CDC is expected to make an announcement about this outbreak on Friday, the agency told Bloomberg

Update: August 19

The CDC confirmed the multistate salmonella outbreak in a release 11 p.m. Friday night. 

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