While it’s not technically summer just yet, the summer fun is already starting. Freshly cut melons including watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, and fruit medley products have been linked to a salmonella outbreak across five states. Customers in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio are advised to avoid any tasty fruit they have bought pre-cut from Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart, and Whole Foods/Amazon.
According to the CDC: 60 people infected with the outbreak strain have been reported, 31 people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported. It is believed that “pre-cut melon supplied by Caito Foods, LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana is a likely source of this multistate outbreak.”
Is salmonella serious? It can be:
Symptoms of salmonella begin 12 to 72 hours after a person is infected and include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping. This can last about four to seven days, and most individuals recover without treatment. However, those who develop severe diarrhea may need to be hospitalized. Those who are very young, who are very old or who have compromised immune systems are most at risk for complications and severe cases of illness.
Just in time for summer, the CDC reminds you not to swim with diarrhea:
“During 2000–2014, public health officials from 46 states and Puerto Rico reported 493 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water. These outbreaks resulted in at least 27,219 cases and eight deaths.”
Over half the outbreaks occurred during June, July, and August, and hotel pools were the leading culprit location. The majority of outbreaks (89%) were caused by Cryptosporidium – a parasite that causes diarrhea, thus passing the gift along to all the friends you went swimming with. Other infectious outbreaks were caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas and Legionella. Of these three, Cryptosporidium is the most chlorine resistant and the hardest to kill.
The CDC recommends that you 1) don’t swim with diarrhea or an upset stomach, 2) check the inspection score of the pool you are about to submerse your body into, and 3) don’t swallow the water. I don’t know many people who actively try and swallow pool water, but it’s worth noting that it’s very easy to swallow even small amounts of water accidentally when swimming. Cheers to summer!
Mark Siegel, author of “Bird Flu: What You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic” (which I’d like to read soon but I don’t know how much pandemic literature I can stomach) wrote an article that I actually find comforting. Some things he mentions:
‘After the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency over the weekend and the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to level four on Monday and then to level five Wednesday…it sounded like we were gearing up for nuclear war. In reality, the term “flu pandemic” simply means a new strain is infecting and spreading among people in several areas of the world at the same time. It can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Today, the nervous general public should be comforted by the time of the year. It’s the end of the flu season – and that goes for any type of flu. These viruses thrive in the low humidity of winter, not summer, and it is very likely that this outbreak will die out as the warmer weather comes.”
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