Salmonella outbreak in Illinois, Missouri, other states linked to pre-cut melons

A salmonella outbreak affecting five states including Illinois and Missouri is linked to pre-cut melons, according to Illinois health officials.

Citing the CDC, The Illinois Department of Public Health said 60 cases linked to cut melons have been reported across five states, including Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Of those, IDPH said six cases have been identified in Illinois.

The includes melons you might buy in a fruit salad. The agency did not specify a specific kind of melon, but said the outbreak is linked to melons bought already cut and packaged —alone or in fruit salad. IDPH said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working to identify the exact source, and recalls may be issued once more information comes to light.

In a news release sent Friday,  IDPH Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah said the department is warning people not to eat pre-cut melons bought at Walmart stores in Illinois or any other state affected by the outbreak. “If you have recently purchased pre-cut melon from Walmart, throw it out,” Shah said. “If you have recently eaten pre-cut melon from a Walmart store and experience diarrhea, fever, and cramps, contact your health care provider.”

Those salmonella symptoms usually show up 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. IDPH said the illness usually lasts four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment, but severe cases can lead to hospitalization. IDPH said the CDC has notified the state agency that this outbreak has included more hospitalizations than usual. That’s why it’s important to contact your doctor if you believe you are affected by this outbreak.

While cut melons are the only ones linked to this outbreak, IDPH said people should remember some safety measures for consuming melons bought whole as well. It’s important to wash the outside of a melon before cutting into it, as well as to wash your hands, the knife you will use, the cutting board and any other utensils that may come into contact with the fruit. Those steps help prevent contamination from salmonella and other germs.

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