Infections, deaths linked to contaminated cantaloupe highest in Minnesota

Infections, deaths linked to contaminated cantaloupe highest in Minnesota

Infections, deaths linked to contaminated cantaloupe highest in Minnesota

Minnesota recorded more infections and deaths than any other state in the last two months linked to eating cantaloupe contaminated with salmonella, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC data, updated on Friday, showed that 26 out of 302 people in the U.S. who have fallen ill and three out of four deaths since mid-October were in Minnesota.

“There have been larger outbreaks,” reacted MNGI Digestive Health Gastroenterologist Dr. David Feldshon on Saturday.

“But if you look at the fact that it’s now 42 states and three deaths in Minnesota, I think that’s alarming by itself.”

The risk of infection remains low and the risk of death much lower, Dr. Felshon added.

“Oh, I would say it’s well under 1%. But the people at high risk… infants and immunocompromised, and elderly are the ones that should be the most concerned,” he continued.

What’s “unusual,” according to Feldshon, is that the infections appear to trace back to whole cantaloupes.

The traceback investigation by FDA and CDC was ongoing as of this report, but the agencies have linked the outbreak to at least two brands of whole cantaloupes. “Malichita” or “Rudy” brand cantaloupes have been recalled, as well as any fruit cups or trays made with the contaminated melons — which are sold at major nationwide retailers, including Kroger, Trader Joe’s, ALDI and Kwik Trip, to name a few.

“As a general rule, whole fruit that has not had the skin cut is safer,” Feldshon explained.

“The moment you cut fruit and don’t know who cut it, then you’re clearly at higher risk. The fact that whole cantaloupe may be implicated is, I would say, unusual. Most fruit-related infections are generally — it’s somehow processed fruit.”

While the infectious disease experts work to learn more, Feldshon advised it safest to steer clear of cantaloupes and thoroughly wash your hands, especially after a possible infection.

“If someone has had salmonella, they can pass salmonella bacteria in their stool for several up to five weeks. And so anyone who’s had salmonella should really be cautious about hand washing,” he added.

Symptoms of salmonella such as high fever, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and most likely, diarrhea would likely show up within 8 to 72 hours “but as long as a week after ingestion,” Feldshon said.

“There’s lots of things that cause diarrhea, and most of them are not salmonella,” he added.

“But the alert should go up if a person is having more than nine or 10 stools in a day, high fever or vomiting, where you’re unable to keep enough fluids down and getting dehydrated.”

If “any of those things” are happening, he said, “I would just go right to the hospital.”