CBC News – Officials say a significant salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe sold across Canada this fall has killed five people and sickened dozens more, with many patients being children in daycare or seniors in long-term care.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said the death toll had risen to five as of Thursday, but provided no further detail. An update said the outbreak, linked to contaminated Malichita or Rudy brand cantaloupe, has made 129 people sick across six provinces — nearly double the number of cases reported on Dec. 1 when there was just a single death.
[In the U.S., there have been over 100 cases of and about 30 hospitalizations because of the outbreak. Minnesota has had 20 cases and 2 deaths, the most cases in the country. Wisconsin has had the second highest cases with 18. The CDC says you should not eat any pre-cut cantaloupe- and if you eat the fruit at all you should wash it thoroughly. Headline Health suggests soaking any fruit or vegetable in a solution of water and white vinegar before cutting or consuming to reduce surface contamination.]
April Hexemer, director of the outbreak management division at PHAC, said of the current cases:
“Many of those individuals have reported living in long-term care facilities, retirement homes and attending daycare. Quite unfortunately, people in those age groups are often at highest risk for severe illness and that is what we are seeing in this outbreak investigation,”
“The very likely source here is likely at the site of origin: At the farm. It’s common, unfortunately, for these to be contaminated with the feces of animals.” [Unmentioned in this story is the fact that the leading ‘animal’ present in farm fields is humans.]
“This is more [cases] than what we would normally see in a salmonella outbreak investigation.”
Salmonella is a bacteria commonly associated with raw or undercooked chicken, but can also be found in raw fruits and vegetables. Most people who get sick recover on their own in a few days, but the illness can be severe.
The current outbreak, which is also affecting hundreds of people across dozens of U.S. states, has been linked to contaminated Malichita or Rudy brand cantaloupe sold in October and November.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist, urged people who have recalled cantaloupes in their home to discard them and get checked if they have symptoms.
Cases have spiked in Quebec, with 91 confirmed infections as of Thursday compared to 35 last week.
“The number of cases that are diagnosed is really the tip of the iceberg. There are probably many, many, many more cases of milder illness that don’t make it to clinical attention.”