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INDIANAPOLIS—Late yesterday, Chamberlain Farms in Owensville, Indiana, was identified as potentially being one source of the recent Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 19 Hoosiers, 178 nationwide and is responsible for the deaths of two Kentuckians. At this time, only cantaloupes grown at Chamberlain Farms are included in this recall.
Consumers can continue to purchase and eat cantaloupes that do not originate from Chamberlain Farms Produce, Inc. Cantaloupes grown at Chamberlain Farms should not be eaten and should be discarded. Hoosiers unsure of where a cantaloupe was grown should ask the retailer about the source of the cantaloupe. If the cantaloupe is from Chamberlain Farms or the retailer does not know the source, it should be discarded. State and federal health officials continue to investigate the outbreak.
Produce can become contaminated with Salmonella or other bacteria through soil contamination, water contamination, or in processing. With cantaloupes in particular, soil and dirt can cling to the rough rind. If Salmonella is present on the outside of the cantaloupe, that bacteria can be introduced into the melon when it is cut.
Below are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses for you and your family.
· Begin with clean hands. Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water before handling produce.
· Use a clean cutting board and knife. Do not use same cutting board or knife for your produce that you use for meats and cheeses to avoid cross contamination.
· Clean the outside of produce before cutting, eating or serving it. Use a fruit and vegetable scrubber to thoroughly clean the outside of produce with rough rinds, cantaloupes or other melons.
· Thoroughly wash any cut fruit or vegetables. Pat dry with a clean towel.
· Refrigerate any leftovers in a closed container within two hours of preparing.
Salmonella bacteria can be found in the intestines of several animals. Infection often results from eating raw eggs or raw poultry or cross-contamination with other food items (such as using the same cutting board for raw meats and produce). Salmonella can also be found on the skin of reptiles and other animals. Hand washing should always be encouraged after playing with pets and handling animals, especially in young children.
Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, some individuals may require hospitalization from severe diarrhea. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites. It can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to become severely ill from Salmonella infection.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of Salmonella infection and feel you may have been exposed to Salmonella, visit your health care provider and be sure to let him or her know you may have been exposed.
For more information about the multistate Salmonella outbreak, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-cantaloupe-08-12/index.html or visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at www.StateHealth.in.gov.