As this issue was being sent to the printer, we learned that the number of deaths caused by a contaminated batch of cantaloupes had reached fourteen. The Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) confirmed that number in an update. Also, it was reported that as many as 75 people across fourteen states were also reported to have been made sick. Almost all victims consumed listeria-infected cantaloupe originating in Colorado. Health officials are concerned that more victims are likely to appear due to the long incubation period of the bacteria. Four outbreak-associated strains of listeria have been traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo.
The FDA confirmed that listeria was found in samples taken from a Denver-area store and the Jensen Farms’ packing facility. The melons were shipped to at least 17 different states across the US between July 29th and September 10th. Jensen Farms issued a nationwide recall of its cantaloupes on September 14th, following news of the multi-state outbreak. The fruit company is collaborating fully with federal authorities to remove all potentially contaminated melons from general sale. But, some of the produce could still be on sale in grocery stores.
At press time Colorado had reported the highest number of infections, followed by New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Other states affected by the outbreak include California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Listeria outbreaks, which affect around 800 people a year in the U.S., are not typically associated with produce, but bacteria were found in sprouts in 2009 and celery in 2010. The bacteria can cause fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusion and diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems, according to the CDC. It is often most deadly among high-risk groups, such as the elderly. The median age of those infected in the recent outbreak is 78.
Source: Associated Press
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