Death Toll Rises In Cantaloupe-Related Listeria Outbreak
October 9, 2011

Death Toll Rises In Cantaloupe-Related Listeria Outbreak

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now report that 21 people have died as a result of a listeria outbreak linked to one Colorado farm's cantaloupes, according to various media reports published late last week.

According to Mary Clare Jalonick of the Associated Press (AP), CDC officials confirmed Friday that a death in Wyoming, previously reported by state officials, was in fact linked to the listeria outbreak.

Furthermore, they announced new fatalities in New York and Indiana, adding to the previously reported five deaths in Colorado, five in New Mexico, two each in Kansas and Texas, and one each in Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Officials also told the AP that there had been one confirmed miscarriage that had been associated with the tainted cantaloupe.

"The outbreak is now one of deadliest in the USA," USA Today's Elizabeth Weise said.

"The deadliest known was in 1985 when a Mexican-style soft cheese contaminated with listeria from Jalisco Products killed 18 adults and 10 newborns, as well as causing 20 miscarriages, according to CDC. It sickened 142 others," she added.

A total of 109 individuals from 23 different states have fallen ill as a result of the cantaloupe, which originated from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado.

The products, the last of which shipped on September 10, should no longer be on store shelves, according to Jalonick. They were recalled on September 14.

The first illnesses were reported after July 31, according to Weise.

"The CDC has reported illnesses in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming," Jalonick said, adding that Colorado had the most illnesses (32), followed by Texas (16) and New Mexico (13).

Symptoms of listeriosis -- which include fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms, according to the AP -- can take more than two months to appear. Thus, the CDC notes that illnesses could continue to appear "into November," says Jalonick.

"FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said this week that the agency is still investigating the cause of the outbreak," she added. "Officials have said they are looking at the farm's water supply and possible animal intrusions among other things to figure out the source of the problem."

Cantaloupes that did not originate from Jensen Farms are safe to eat, CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials told the AP.

Consumers unsure if they may have some of the recalled products should look for labels that say "Colorado Grown," ''Distributed by Frontera Produce," ''" or "Sweet Rocky Fords," Jalonick reported.


On the Net: