Cantaloupe outbreak in Canada kills another person; patient list continues to grow

The number of sick people in an outbreak of Salmonella infections traced to cantaloupe is growing in Canada.

There are now 164 laboratory confirmed patients, up from 129 patients reported on Dec. 7 by the Public Health Agency of Canada. One more person has died, bringing the total number of deaths to seven.

The outbreak is linked to an outbreak in the United States where 302 people have fallen ill and four have died.

People in both countries became ill between mid-October and mid-December. The outbreak is considered to be ongoing and investigators are still working to find more victims.

In both countries very young children and old adults have been hardest hit. In Canada 36 percent of the victims are children five years old or younger and 45 percent are people 65 and older.

A number of recalls have been initiated in both countries, two recalls are key in the outbreaks. Malichita and Rudy brand whole cantaloupes from Mexico appear to be the problem and have been recalled in the United States and Canada. However, additional recalls of freshcut cantaloupe products — including mixed fruit products — are also under recall because they contain cantaloupe of the Malichita and Rudy brands.

In the United States, the recalled cantaloupe products are listed here.

In Canada lists of the recalled cantaloupe can be found here by scrolling down below the individual recall.

About Salmonella infections

Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten cantaloupe and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

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