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DNA test confirms cantaloupe from Chamberlain Farms of Indiana a source in 21-state salmonella outbreak

chamberlain farms, salmonella, cantaloupe
Chamberlain Farm Produce Inc. in Owensville, Ind. is the source of at least some of the salmonella that has infected 178 people in 21 states. AP

(CBS/AP) A DNA test has revealed that cantaloupe from Chamberlain Farms in Owensville, Indiana is the source of at least some of the salmonella responsible for an outbreak that sickened people in 21 states and killed two Kentucky residents, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The Salmonella bacteria collected from Chamberlain Farms matches the "DNA fingerprint" of the salmonella strain responsible for sickening 178 people, including 62 who were hospitalized, FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said.

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She stressed that federal and state agencies were still investigating whether there might be other sources of the salmonella involved in the outbreak.

"Just because we've identified this as one source, things just don't stop here," she said. "We're still assessing the full scope of this."

Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, may cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps within eight to 72 hours of exposure. Most people recover without treatment, but it can be deadly for some. In some cases, diarrhea associated with the infection can be so dehydrating that medical attention is necessary. If salmonella spreads beyond infected people's intestines, they risk death.

Amy Reel, a spokeswoman for the Indiana State Department of Health, said samples have been collected from multiple southern Indiana farms. The FDA is handling analysis of those samples, she said.

Gary Zhao, an attorney for the southwestern Indiana farm, said Tuesday in response to a message seeking comment that the farm would release a statement later this week.

Last week, Tim Chamberlain, who runs the 100-acre (40-hectare) Chamberlain Farms, said it had stopped producing and distributing cantaloupe on Aug. 16, when the FDA alerted him that the fruit could be tainted.

Burgess said the FDA's advice to consumers hasn't changed: Consumers should ask stores where cantaloupe they purchased came from and get rid of the fruit if it was purchased from Chamberlain Farms.

"And if they can't verify where it came from, they should throw it out," Burgess said. "If in doubt, throw it out."

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