First Lawsuit Filed In Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak

The ongoing <"">Listeria outbreak that originated with Colorado-grown cantaloupes has resulted in at least one lawsuit and more are expected. Tammy and Charles Palmer allege the cantaloupe Charles (71) ate tested positive for the Listeria pathogen, said The New York Daily News, citing the lawsuit.

Palmer was one of 22 people who reportedly fell ill in the listeriosis outbreak that began about two weeks ago, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wrote the Daily News. Two people have also reportedly died.

Palmer, who is a retired Marine sergeant, said The Daily News, became ill two weeks ago and was rushed to the hospital paralyzed and unable to speak, according to ABC News. “I went over and started patting his face and I’m like ‘Chuck what’s wrong?’ And he couldn’t talk or anything so that’s when I called 9-11,” his wife, Tammy, said, wrote The Daily News.

According to Tammy, Charles ate the cantaloupe two weeks before he fell ill; Charles is still hospitalized and is on a strong antibiotic regimen, said The Daily News. “The doctors told me it was Listeria. The health department told me that it was the cantaloupe,” Tammie told 7News. “I think there should be some kind of precaution … that food is tested before it’s put out on shelves for people to purchase,” she said.

“We’re deeply saddened that there’s a possibility that our family’s cantaloupe could have gotten somebody sick,” Jensen Farms owner Eric Jensen told 7NEWS. “Our first priority is the public’s health and safety.” Jensen has since shut down operations at the farm, issued a recall, and destroyed its cantaloupe crop, said The Daily News.

Listeriosis—Listeria monocytongenes poisoning—is a potentially fatal infection that can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, infants, and the elderly; susceptible people, including the developing fetus, can also suffer serious central nervous system problems. Listeriosis can also prompt premature births, can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and can prompt neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults. Pregnant women are 20 times likelier to be infected with listeriosis, which can kill fetuses, causing miscarriages and stillbirths.

Amy Philpott, spokeswoman for Jensen Farms, confirmed that one of its Rocky Ford cantaloupes tested positive for Listeria; however, additional tests will determine if the strain matches the outbreak strain. The whole cantaloupes involved were grown at Jensen Farms; 300,000 cases were shipped between July 29th and September 10th 2011 to Illinois, Wyoming, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania. Jensen Farms issued a recall yesterday.

Sicknesses have been reported in Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia, according to the CDC. The two deaths were reported in Colorado and New Mexico; state health departments warned that when testing is complete, more deaths could be confirmed, said FoxNews previously. New Mexico blames three deaths on the outbreak; however, epidemiologist Chad Smelser said one death has been confirmed, two more are pending CDC results, reported FoxNews.

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