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Third death in US, 5 deaths in Canada reported in salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe

An outbreak of salmonella tied to whole and pre-cut cantaloupe products continues to grow, and a third death has been reported in the US, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

In an outbreak update Thursday, the FDA reports 230 cases of illness in 38 states, including the three deaths. Canada also has confirmed 129 salmonella cases, including five deaths, from six provinces. Most of those sickened are 5 and younger or over 65. Many attended some kind of group care, such as a nursing home or day care, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The most recent illness in the outbreak began November 20, the FDA says.

The outbreak has been tied to cantaloupes grown in Mexico and sold under the Rudy and Malichita brands. The cut fruit products have been sold at Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, KwikTrip, RaceTrac, Aldi, Walmart and Vinyard.

“Do not eat pre-cut cantaloupes if you don’t know whether Malichita or Rudy brand cantaloupes were used,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned. “This includes cantaloupe chunks and fruit mixes with cantaloupes at restaurants and grocery stores.”

Anyone who has recalled fruit products at home should throw them away or return them to the store where you bought them, the CDC says. Make sure you wash any items or surfaces that have come into contact with the fruit using hot, soapy water. A dishwasher will also help get rid of the bacteria.

The CDC is also urging businesses not to sell the contaminated fruit and to wash and sanitize items that have come into contact with it.

Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever. Symptoms typically start six hours to six days after someone swallows the bacteria.

Get medical care right away if you think you have eaten some of this fruit and have a fever higher than 102, diarrhea that won’t go away, bloody diarrhea, vomiting that won’t stop or dehydration.

Anyone can get sick with salmonella, but some people are more vulnerable to severe symptoms, including the elderly, pregnant people, children and those with underlying illnesses that weaken the immune system.

Salmonella infections are common. The bacteria causes about 1.35 million human infections and 26,5000 hospitalizations in the US every year, according to the CDC.

Such infections are also costly. Foodborne salmonella infections cost the US $4.1 billion annually, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

The CDC, the FDA and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to investigate the outbreak to identify any other cantaloupe or fruit products that may be contaminated.

CNN’s Jen Christensen and Katherine Dillinger contributed to this report.

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