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Public Health Agency of Canada confirms 6th death from cantaloupe salmonella outbreak

The Public Health Agency of Canada on Friday confirmed a sixth death tied to a salmonella outbreak caused by the consumption of contaminated cantaloupes.

PHAC said in a statement that 53 people have been hospitalized and there have been 153 lab-confirmed cases so far.

“Based on the investigation findings to date, consumption of Malichita and Rudy brand cantaloupes have been identified as the likely source of the outbreak,” PHAC said. “Many of the individuals who became sick reported having eaten cantaloupe before their illnesses occurred.”

Many of the people who’ve gotten sick were adults in long-term care facilities and retirement homes or children going to daycare, the agency said.

“Quite unfortunately, people in those age groups are often at highest risk for severe illness and that is what we are seeing in this outbreak investigation,” said April Hexemer, director of the outbreak management division at PHAC.

WATCH | How to reduce your risk of getting sick from salmonella: 

Killer cantaloupes: How to protect yourself from salmonella

At least five deaths and dozens of illnesses have been linked to contaminated cantaloupes sold in Canada. Food science expert Keith Warriner breaks down what you need to know about potentially deadly bacteria and how to reduce your risk of getting sick.

“This is more [cases] than what we would normally see in a salmonella outbreak investigation.”

Salmonella is a bacteria commonly associated with raw or undercooked chicken, but can also be found in raw fruits and vegetables. Most people who get sick recover on their own in a few days, but the illness can be severe.

The current outbreak, which is also affecting hundreds of people across dozens of U.S. states, has been linked to contaminated Malichita or Rudy brand cantaloupe sold in October and November.

The recalled Malichita cantaloupe was sold in Canada between Oct. 11 and Nov. 14, while the Rudy brand fruit was sold from Oct. 10 to Nov. 24.

Two produce stickers, one blue and one white, appear against a white background.
Canada’s public health agency released these photos showing what the stickers would look like on cantaloupes sold under the Rudy and Malichita brand names. (Supplied by Public Health Agency of Canada)

Consumers should not buy, eat or sell cantaloupe distributed by Malichita or Rudy. The agency has issued separate recalls for other types of fruit, like honeydew, pineapple, watermelon and assorted fruit trays.

“We’re asking people to check their refrigerators and their freezers for any of the recalled items, including the cantaloupes. If you find them, please throw them out,” Hexemer said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating after cantaloupes carrying the same strain of salmonella made 230 people sick across 38 states. Three people in that country had died as of Dec. 7.

A cantaloupe with a label on it.
A brand of imported cantaloupes called Malichita is pictured in an undated photo. Cantaloupes from Malichita, as well as another brand called Rudy, have been recalled after a salmonella outbreak affecting people across Canada. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

Symptoms of infection causes by salmonella include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headaches. The illness is more likely to cause severe symptoms in young children, seniors and people with compromised immune systems.

People who think they are sick should contact their health-care provider.

Mexico’s government said Friday it temporarily closed a cantaloupe processing plant in the northern state of Sonora while it investigates the source of salmonella outbreaks in Canada and the U.S.

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