21 Confirmed Dead In Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak

The ongoing and deadly cantaloupe <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/listeria">Listeria poisoning outbreak that has sickened at least 109 people nationwide has also been linked to 21 deaths. Illnesses span 23 states, and deaths have been confirmed in 11 states. The outbreak, said federal health officials late last week, is one of the two deadliest in over 10 years and has led to more illnesses and deaths than the deadly 1998 hot dog and deli meat listeriosis outbreak.

Four strains of Listeria monocytogenes are involved in this outbreak, which also led to a miscarriage in one Iowa woman, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wrote MSNBC. More deaths and illnesses are expected in the outbreak that led to a recall of over 300,000 cases of Holly, Colorado’s Jensen Farms whole Rocky Ford cantaloupes.

Last week, we wrote that Fruit Fresh Up Inc. of Depew, New York recalled nearly 5,000 individual packages of its “Fresh Cut Cantaloupe and Cut Mixed Fruit Containing Cantaloupe” in response to the outbreak. That fruit was distributed in Buffalo, New York and surrounding areas in retail stores and through catering orders. The produce was sold between August 31, 2011 and September 11, 2011.

MSNBC wrote that fatalities have been confirmed in Colorado (5), New Mexico (5), Texas (2), Kansas (2), Indiana (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New York (1), Oklahoma (1), and Wyoming (1).

Last month, the FDA discovered Listeria monocytogenes in samples of Jensen Farms’ Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe taken from a Denver area store and on samples taken from equipment and cantaloupe at Jensen Farms’ packing facility. On September 14, Jensen Farms recalled its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes in response to the multi-state outbreak of listeriosis. Jensen Farms shipped the recalled cantaloupes from July 29 through September 10 to 25 states; some may have been shipped to other states.

Cantaloupe has a shelf life of about two weeks, so the produce is likely inedible at this point, said MSNBC previously. Illnesses started to occur around July 31; however, the incubation period for listeriosis can be as long as two months, according to experts.

Consumers might also have kept the produce refrigerated, not realizing that Listeria monocytogenes easily survives in the cold. Consumers are urged to discard any Jensen Farms cantaloupe and sanitize kitchen surfaces, the refrigerator, and kitchen implements that might have been in contact with the potentially tainted fruit, said MSNBC, previously.

According to the CDC, symptoms of Listeria may include fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. In pregnant women, Listeria may present as only a mild, flu-like illness. Infections during pregnancy can also lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In other Listeria victims, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions may also be present.

The origin of the Listeria poisoning outbreak has not been identified and the investigation continues.

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