Deadly Salmonella Outbreak Spreading in 34 States—These Are the Symptoms

The illness has been linked to different brands of pre-cut cantaloupe sold at some major grocers.

Whether you're getting a head start on your New Year's resolution to eat healthier or preparing a holiday party spread, the produce section is an essential stop on any trip through the grocery store. But while the fruits and vegetables you're filling your cart with are typically one of the best ways to do your body good, there's still a risk of foodborne illness from eating anything that might be contaminated. Now, health officials are recalling certain items due to a deadly Salmonella outbreak that's spreading in 34 states.

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The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning the public to avoid eating certain cantaloupe products after they were linked to a wave of illnesses. As of Nov. 30, there were 117 cases reported in states from coast to coast, including 61 hospitalizations and two deaths. However, the CDC notes that the number of sick people is likely much higher as "many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella."

The outbreak has also prompted a wave of product recalls, with a list that has grown over more than two weeks. The affected items include whole cantaloupes marked with stickers from the Malichita or Rudy brands and the number "4050." It also includes pre-cut cantaloupe and mixed fruit bowls containing cantaloupe sold at major grocers and retailers, including Walmart, Aldi, Kroger, Sprouts, Trader Joe's, Kwik Trip, RaceTrac, Vinyard, and Bix Produce.

The CDC warns customers not to eat any pre-cut cantaloupe if they're unsure whether Malichita or Ruby brand fruit was used, including in prepackaged fruit mixes and at restaurants or other food purveyors. The agency urges anyone with the recalled items or pre-cut cantaloupe at home not to eat them and instead throw them away or return them to their place of purchase. They should also wash any surfaces the items may have touched using hot, soapy water or running them through a dishwasher.

According to the CDC, symptoms of Salmonella can start anywhere from six hours to six days after someone has ingested the bacteria. The most severe include a fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, diarrhea that lasts for more than three days or is bloody, stomach cramps, and vomiting.

Symptoms usually go away after four to seven days. Still, the agency warns that some people—including children under five, adults over 65, and those who are immunocompromised—could develop an even more severe illness. Both the CDC and FDA urge anyone who develops symptoms of a severe Salmonella infection to seek medical attention immediately.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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