MADISON COUNTY —
The Madison County Health Department is warning residents to check where a cantaloupe was grown before purchasing it.
The advisory was issued after three salmonella cases, possibly linked to a multistate outbreak, were diagnosed this week.
The recent outbreak has been caused by a strain of salmonella called typhimurium, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The federal agency announced Wednesday that cantaloupes from Chamberlain Farms in Owensville, Ind., are the likely cause.
The farm has voluntarily recalled the cantaloupes, and the FDA advised throwing out any Chamberlain Farms cantaloupe. Many cantaloupes have stickers on them indicating where they were grown, but if a melon does not and it cannot be determined where it came from, the FDA said it should be thrown away.
Twenty-one states have reported 178 salmonella typhimurium cases since July 7, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Sixty-two people have been hospitalized with the illness.
Kentucky has been hit the hardest with 56 cases and two deaths.
Three Madison Countians have been diagnosed with the same salmonella strain, and one person had to be hospitalized, according to Christie Green, spokesperson for the Madison County Health Department.
The three salmonella typhimurium cases involved a woman in her mid-40s, a 60-year-old woman and a woman over 60, Green said. The woman over 60 had to be hospitalized for three days but is improving, according to Green.
The woman in her mid-40s had not eaten any melon before becoming ill, Green noted. The diet history for the other two people was not available so Green couldn’t confirm if those cases were connected to the tainted cantaloupe.
If a doctor suspects a patient is suffering from salmonella and receives a positive test from a stool sample, state law requires that the the health department be notified.
Public health officials can test a sample to pinpoint exactly which one of the 2,500 serotypes, or strains, the person has caught, Green said. It can take up to a month to get serotype confirmation.
If more salmonella cases of same strain occur, that’s when health workers begin investigating to discover its source.
“Then we start looking for connections,” Green said.
Healthy people who get salmonella may develop diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever soon after infection, and the illness usually lasts four to seven days, according to the FDA.
“Someone who is otherwise healthy would likely recover and not even go to the doctor for it,” Green said.
However, salmonella can be deadly for children under 5, the elderly and people who are immunocompromised. Severe diarrhea may lead to hospitalization, and sometimes the infection can spread from the intestines into the blood stream, the FDA reports.
Green said the health department encourages people who experience symptoms for more than four days to go to a doctor for treatment. If a person is very young, very old or immunocompromised, Green said it’s important to see a doctor right away.
Four hundred people die each year from acute salmonellosis, and children are the most likely to get infected, according to the FDA.
Six cases of salmonella have been diagnosed in Madison County since Jan. 1, Green said. Foodborne illnesses tend to increase in the summertime due to people having more shared meals and food being left out at improper temperatures, Green added.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed @richmondregister.com or 624-6694.
How to prevent salmonella infection
Wash your hands after you:
- Use the toilet
- Change a diaper
- Handle raw meat or poultry
- Clean up pet feces
- Touch reptiles or birds
Keep things separate to prevent cross-contamination:
- Store raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods in your refrigerator
- If possible, have two cutting boards in your kitchen — one for raw meat and the other for fruits and vegetables
- Never place cooked food on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat
Avoid eating raw eggs
- Cookie dough, homemade ice cream and eggnog all contain raw eggs. If you must consume raw eggs, make sure they've been pasteurized.
Source: The Mayo Clinic