5 Lives dead as Cantaloupe Contamination Spreads Across Canada. Public Health Agency of Canada has reported a surge in a salmonella outbreak linked to two brands of cantaloupe sold across the country this fall. It has lead to 5 confirmed deaths. While the agency did not provide specific details about the fatalities, it confirmed that the outbreak has now affected 129 individuals across six provinces. The implicated brands are Malichita and Rudy cantaloupe, which have been found to be contaminated.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “Obviously, this is a major outbreak.” He also expressed concern that the reported cases are likely just the “tip of the iceberg,” suggesting that many milder cases may not have come to clinical attention.
Salmonella, commonly associated with raw or undercooked chicken, has been traced back to raw fruits and vegetables in this outbreak. While most individuals recover from salmonella infection in a few days, severe cases may require hospitalization.
The outbreak has hit Quebec the hardest, with 91 confirmed infections, a significant increase from the previous week’s count of 35. Ontario and British Columbia have reported 17 and 15 cases, respectively, with two cases each in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Notably, nearly half of the infected individuals are over 65 years old, and another third are children under five. The age range of those affected spans from infants less than a year old to an adult as old as 100.
The implicated Malichita cantaloupe was sold in Canada from October 11 to November 14, while the Rudy brand fruit was available from October 10 to November 24. The agency has advised consumers to avoid buying, eating, or selling cantaloupe from these brands and has issued separate recalls for other fruits like honeydew, pineapple, watermelon, and assorted fruit trays.
The agency is actively investigating additional infections to determine if they are linked to the contaminated cantaloupe. It also warned that individuals infected with salmonella can spread the bacteria to others even several days to weeks after becoming infected, even if they show no symptoms.
As a precautionary measure, consumers are urged to discard any cantaloupe they cannot verify the brand of or that is part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recalls. The situation is evolving, and health officials are closely monitoring the outbreak to prevent further illnesses and protect public health.