The outbreak from the food-borne illness, listeria in tainted cantaloupe has spread across 12 U.S. states and has caused 25 deaths. It’s also caused 123 people to be sick across 26 U.S. states and one pregnant woman to have a miscarriage because of this listeria illness.
The listeriosis-linked deaths have occurred in Colorado (6), Indiana (1), Kansas (2), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (5), New York (2), Oklahoma (1), Texas (2) and Wyoming (1). The people who have died ranged in age from 48 to 96, the CDC said.
The listeria has been traced back to Rocky Ford melons grown by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that on September 14, 2011, Jensen Farms voluntarily recalled around 310,000 of their Rocky Ford cantaloupes that were shipped from July 29 to September 10 to 24 or more states. Jensen Farms is unable to present a list of the stores they sold the melons to since the fruit is sold and then resold.
CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said in a news conference:
“This is the deadliest outbreak of a food-borne disease that we’ve identified in more than a decade. Unlike other bacteria, listeria can flourish in colder temperatures. So, if you’ve got a contaminated cantaloupe in your refrigerator, the listeria will continue to grow. That’s one of the reasons why we may see continued cases from cantaloupe already in people’s refrigerators in the days and weeks ahead.”
Even though the cantaloupes that were infected were recalled back in September, the CDC warns everyone that this Listeria monocytogenes infection symptoms can take up to two months to appear. It may be after December before we see the end of this serious illness outbreak.
The listeria illness can cause fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusion, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems. It’s most deadly among people with a weakened immune system, but the group with the highest risk is the elderly. The CDC reported that those who have died were between the ages of 48-96 with a median age of 87.