The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced the outbreak to a Caito Foods facility in Indiana. The company has now issued a recall notice in Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and North Carolina. They have removed clear plastic containers of watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and mixed melons from the shelves.
Those who consumed these pre-cut melon products began falling ill with salmonella in late April, and hospitalization spiked two weeks later, with patients ranging from an infant to a 97-year-old. So far, 31 of the 60 victims have been hospitalized, though none have died.
This food-borne bacteria sickens more than 1 million people annually in the US, most commonly presenting as temporary fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain. These symptoms can be much worse for young children and people over the age of 65, and the CDC estimates that 450 people die from salmonella each year.
The reported patient count in the latest outbreak could still increase and is already higher than a wave of salmonella that hit the East Coast last spring, which was linked to a rodent-infested egg farm.
Still, this current outbreak is minor compared to past ones – such as a 2010 outbreak in which more than 1,500 people fell ill, or a peanut contamination in 2009, which caused 9 deaths.
The melon warning comes days after the apparent end of an E.coli bacteria outbreak that killed five, sent about 200 to hospitals and resulted in a nationwide warning against eating romaine lettuce.