A deadly salmonella outbreak has been linked to pre-sliced watermelons from Brazil, says the Health Protection Agency.
Since December, one person has died and 50 more have fallen ill with a Salmonella Newport infection from packs of ready-to-eat sliced watermelon from Brazil.
Salmonella has been linked to pre-sliced watermelons from Brazil
35 cases have been identified in the UK. 70 per cent of the victims are female, and include a six month old baby and pensioners. The British fatality was suffering from underlying health problems.
The same strain of the bug has been identified in a further 5 cases in the Republic of Ireland and 15 in Germany.
The presence of salmonella in the watermelon was identified by HPA scientists carrying out a routine sampling of foods.
Virtually all the supermarkets import watermelons from Brazil at this time of year. Last night Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose and the Co-op insisted their watermelons were not affected.
The infection causes a similar illness to other forms of salmonella infection and symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever.
The HPA stressed it cannot be certain the victims ate watermelon from Brazil and it is too soon to identify the source.
However, they do advise that people protect themselves by washing all types of fruit and vegetables, pre-packaged or not.
Dr Bob Adak, head of gastrointestinal diseases at the HPA, said: ‘Early indications suggest that a number of people became unwell after eating watermelon.
‘It’s important to remember the risk of becoming unwell after eating watermelon is very low. These cases only represent a very small proportion of total consumption.
‘It is always advisable to wash fruits and vegetables – including watermelon – before consumption to reduce the risk of illness.’
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012