Deaths and illnesses from recalled cantaloupe are on the rise

Georgia among states included in the recall and at least 5 in the state have been sickened

A salmonella outbreak tied to tainted cantaloupe has now killed eight people — three in the U.S. and five in Canada, health officials reported Thursday.

Dozens more illnesses were reported by both countries. In the U.S., at least 230 people have been ill in 38 states and 96 have been hospitalized since mid-November, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Georgia, there have been no deaths and five illnesses connected to the melons, in individuals ages 1 to 81, according to the latest reports Friday morning from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Georgia’s cases include one individual who was hospitalized and two who sought care at an emergency room, but were not admitted to the hospital, according to the DPH. The Georgia cases have appeared around the state and are not concentrated in any one location. While nationally many illnesses appeared in residents of long-term care facilities who consumed the fruit, and none of the 5 Georgians was a resident of a long-term care facility.

The tainted cantaloupe was also shipped to Canada, where 129 cases have been reported, including 44 hospitalizations, health officials reported.

Many of the people who fell ill reported eating pre-cut cantaloupe in clamshell packages and trays sold in stores. Consumers should not buy, eat or serve cantaloupe, if they don’t know the source, the CDC said.

New recalls of whole and pre-cut fruit have been added to a growing list, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. Recalls of whole and pre-cut cantaloupes include Aldi, RaceTrac, Kwik Trip markets, Bix Produce and distributor GHGA, which sent recalled products to Kroger, Sprouts Farmer’s Markets and Trader Joe’s stores in several states, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The whole cantaloupes that are part of the recall might have a sticker that says “Malichita” or “Rudy,” with the number “4050″, and “Product of Mexico/produit du Mexique.”

Last week, Cut Fruit Express initiated a recall of cantaloupe chunks and fruit mixes containing cantaloupe. On Tuesday, TGD Cuts, LLC launched a recall of specific fresh fruit cup, clamshell and tray products that contained cantaloupe from the company TruFresh.

Health officials are still working to determine whether additional products are linked to the illnesses.

According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the fresh-cut fruit products containing recalled cantaloupe were distributed to Kroger stores in Alabama and Georgia; Sprouts stores in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and Trader Joe’s stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The products are packaged in clear square or round plastic containers, marked with a “sell by” date and a lot code on the label.

Salmonella can cause serious illness in young children, people older than 65 and those with weakened immune systems.

Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps within six hours to six days after consuming contaminated food. Illnesses typically last four to seven days. Vulnerable people, including children, people older than 65 and those with weakened immune systems may develop severe illnesses from the bacteria that require medical care or hospitalization.

Staff Writer Helena Oliviero and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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