UPDATE 1/3/13 @ 10:55 a.m.
OWENSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- Federal health inspectors are seeking details from a southwestern Indiana farm about how it will fix unsanitary conditions found after a deadly salmonella outbreak was linked the farm's cantaloupes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Chamberlain Farms of Owensville requesting specifics on addressing problems found by inspectors, including "accumulated organic material" on conveyers and standing water on the floor with apparent algae.
The FDA says last summer's outbreak sickened at least 260 people in 24 states, including West Virginia, and killed three people in Kentucky. The warning letter dated Dec. 14 gives Chamberlain Farms 15 working days to respond after it was received.
Chamberlain Farms attorney Gary Zhao didn't have an immediate response Thursday, saying he expected to release a statement later in the day.
Doctor Rahul Gupta says the person who was infected with salmonella was hospitalized. The person has since been released from the hospital and is doing fine.
So far the salmonella outbreak has infected nearly 150 residents in 20 states, 31 people have been sent to the hospital and two people of them have died, both in Kentucky.
Gupta says they are still investigating where the cantaloupe was bought.
Gupta says everyone needs to check where their cantaloupes are coming from. You can check the sticker on the cantaloupe to find out. If you have one from southwestern Indiana you should get rid of it.
Gupta says this is also a good chance to remind everyone to wash all fruits and vegetables before you eat it.
Kristy Bolen, with the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department, recommends you wash produce thoroughly. That's after Kentucky pinpoints the cause of a statewide salmonella outbreak to cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana.
"The skin of cantaloupe is porous, so you have to clean it well." Bolen says. "It's just a precaution."
Stickers on grocery store cantaloupes identify where the fruit was grown. Those stickers may not exist on roadside stand cantaloupes.
The key during this outbreak is to ask.
"Don't assume if you bought it locally, it was grown locally" Bolen says. "To stay safe, just ask."
Here's the latest information from Frankfort, confirming cantaloupes are connected to the statewide Salmonellosis Outbreak. The public is advised to avoid eating melons grown in southwestern Indiana.
The Department for Public Health (DPH) today reported that cantaloupes tested in the state public health laboratory carry the same strain of Salmonella associated with a statewide outbreak that health officials say is still ongoing.
The salmonellosis outbreak, which has sickened at least 50 Kentuckians and been associated with two deaths, began in early July. Through an epidemiological investigation and confirmatory lab testing, Kentucky public health officials determined that cantaloupes, which evidence indicates were grown in southwestern Indiana but purchased in Kentucky, carried the same strain of Salmonella determined to be the cause of an ongoing outbreak of infection. Salmonellosis cases caused by the outbreak strain have also been reported in other states. In addition, investigation is also continuing into other clusters of salmonella cases in Kentucky, which may be linked to cantaloupe or watermelon consumption.
“Foodborne illness is a serious threat to public health. Consumers are advised to avoid eating cantaloupes from southwestern Indiana, especially if they are at heightened risk for complications from salmonella infection,” said acting Public Health Commissioner Steve Davis, M.D. “In addition, healthcare providers are encouraged to be mindful of patients who may have symptoms consistent with salmonellosis and report all cases to the local health department.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is collaborating with public health officials in affected states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the ongoing outbreak, including tracing the source of the affected melons and shipments of melons that may have been contaminated. A likely source of the outbreak is cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana region and distributed to stores in Kentucky. No Kentucky-grown cantaloupes have been associated with this outbreak.
Nine cases of Salmonella have been confirmed in Olive Hill, Ky.
Christy Bolen with the Ashland Boyd County Health Department tells WSAZ.com that people started getting sick about July 11.
There have been no new cases of Salmonella reported since July 31.
Of the nine cases, four of the cases have been the same strain of 44 statewide Salmonella cases.
All of the people affected by Salmonella have recovered and are in good health, according to Bolen.
A statewide investigation is underway to try to find the source of the cases.
The symptoms of salmonella include: diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. Infections usually resolve in 5-7 days and usually resolve without treatment. Young children, older adults and persons with chronic conditions often have more severe illness and need hospitalization. Most infections go unreported since the illness is generally mild.
Salmonella infection is normally contracted from eating raw eggs or raw poultry or having those products touch other items that are then eaten (such as using the same cutting board for raw chicken and produce). Salmonella can also be found on the skin of reptiles and other animals. Handwashing should always be encouraged after playing with pets, especially in young children. Salmonella can also occasionally be found on produce items, so all items should be washed before eating.
More information can be found at www.cdc.gov.
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