The Outbreak:

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in a number of states, including Oregon, Washington, California, and Maryland and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Panama infections. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.

As of March 22, 2011, 12 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Panama have been reported from Oregon (5 cases), Washington (4 cases), California (2 cases), and Maryland (1 case). Reported dates of illness onset range from February 5, 2011 to February 23, 2011. Ill persons range in age from less than 1 year old to 68 years old, with a median age of 12 years old. Sixty-six percent are male. Among ill persons, two have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

The outbreak can be visually described with a chart showing the number of people who became ill each day. This chart is called an epi curve. Illnesses that occurred after February 15, 2011 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks. Please see the Timeline for Reporting of Salmonella Cases for more details.

Investigation of the outbreak:

Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies have linked this outbreak to eating cantaloupe. Eleven of 12 ill persons reported eating cantaloupe in the week before illness. Ten of these 11 ill persons purchased cantaloupes before becoming ill at seven different locations of a national warehouse clubs. Information gathered with patient permission from membership card records helped determine that ill persons purchased cantaloupes sourced from a single farm. Product traceback information indicates these cantaloupes were harvested from single farm in Guatemala. FDA is working closely with CDC, authorities in states where illnesses have occurred and the firms involved to investigate the source of the contamination.