Deadly Listeria Outbreak from Cantaloupes Grows: 2011 Recall Reminder

Deadly Listeria Outbreak from Cantaloupes Grows: 2011 Recall Reminder

There’s grave news today as it seems the deadly outbreak of possible listeria, linked to cantaloupe melons, is now the most deadly in a decade. Up to 16 people are now feared to have died from illness related to the melons while dozens more people have become ill from the fruit. We’ll give you more on that plus a reminder of recall details.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed deaths yesterday in Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Nebraska on top of deaths already reported the previous week in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Maryland, all related to the consumption of cantaloupe melons. Total deaths now stand at 13 but another 3 deaths are also being investigated that may be connected to the tainted melons. Around 72 people are reported to have suffered illness across 18 states in total, with Colorado being the state where most people have been affected.

The CDC’s Dr. Robert Tauxe warned that deaths and illness from the melons could well increase further over the coming weeks as listeria symptoms can take some time to develop, as long as 4 weeks after consumption. Tauxe said, “That long incubation period is a real problem. People who ate a contaminated food two weeks ago or even a week ago could still be falling sick weeks later,” according to an Associated Press report on USA Today.

The previous most deadly food outbreak in the US in the last decade occurred in 2008 when 9 people were killed by salmonella from contaminated peanuts. However before that there were 52 killed in 1985 from a listeria outbreak related to soft cheese and 21 deaths in 1998, also from listeria and linked to hot dogs and deli meats.

The latest cantaloupe melon listeria outbreak stems from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo., where a recall was issued earlier in the month. The melons concerned were shipped between July 29 through September 10 under the Rocky Ford brand across 25 states. Not every cantaloupe melon affected by the recall is labeled according to the FDA, but those that are may be labeled “Colorado Grown,” “JensenFarms.com,” “Sweet Rocky Fords” or “Distributed by Frontera Produce.”

Advice from officials if you may have any of the contaminated melons is to discard it straightaway and thoroughly clean and sanitize any surfaces involved. Listeria symptoms include fever, muscle aches and sometimes, gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. In severe cases it can even lead to victims being unable to speak or becoming incapacitated. Listeria rarely affects fit and healthy people. Those most susceptible to the illness are the elderly and people with weak immune systems and it can also be dangerous for pregnant women.

The CDA warns that 1 in 5 of those who contract listeria may die from the illness. According to The New York Times, most of those who have died so far were over the age of 60 while at least two of them were over 90. We’d like to hear your thoughts on this worrying deadly food outbreak so let us have your comments. Have you eaten any melons that could be among those affected? Have you suffered any symptoms? Please take all necessary precautions and follow official advice.

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