KY Consumers Should Confirm Where Fruit Was Grown
By Candice Freeland
KENTUCKY, INDIANA - The Kentucky Department for Public Health is reporting that cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana this summer have tested positive in the Kentucky state laboratory for a strain of Salmonella that has been associated with a statewide outbreak of illness that health officials say is still ongoing.
The infection has sickened at least 50 Kentuckians, beginning in July, and been associated with two deaths. Through an epidemiological investigation and confirmatory lab testing, health officials believe the cantaloupes were grown in southwestern Indiana,but purchased in Kentucky.
Acting Public Health Commissioner Steve Davis M.D. says, "...Consumers are advised to avoid eating cantaloupes from southwestern Indiana, especially if they are at heightened risk for complications from salmonella infection." This would include those with a weakened immune system. In addition, Davis says that healthcare providers are encouraged to be mindful of patients who may have symptoms consistent with salmonellosis and reminds them to report those cases to their local health department. The state agency says the most effective way to know if your cantaloupe was frown in southwest Indiana is to ask someone in the produce department whre you're shopping, prior to purchase.
Salmonella infections are relatively common, generally resulting in diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection. Infection is most often diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts 4-7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur, especially in young infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
Salmonella is a bacterium that can be found in the intestines of animals. Salmonellosis is often contracted from eating raw eggs or raw poultry or having those products touch other items that are then eaten, such as using the same cutting board for raw chicken and produce.
Salmonella can also be found on the skin of reptiles and other animals. Handwashing should always be encouraged after playing with pets, especially in young children. Salmonella can occasionally be found on contaminated produce items, so all produce should be thoroughly washed and scrubbed before eating. In general, the FDA recommends thoroughly washing and scrubbing the rinds of all cantaloupes and melons prior to cutting and slicing, and to keep sliced melons refrigerated prior to eating.