Listeria Found On Cantaloupe, Jensen Farm Confirms

We’ve been following an outbreak of listeriosis—<"">Listeria monocytongenes poisoning—potentially linked to cantaloupes harvested from Colorado’s Rocky Ford area. Listeria has been linked to the outbreak and the pathogen was just found on a Jensen Farm cantaloupe.

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, said FoxNews. This is the first time that Listeria has been linked to a cantaloupe in the United States, added FoxNews.

The Listeria outbreak has, to date, sickened 22 people and caused at least two deaths, said FoxNews. 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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. New Mexico blames three deaths on the outbreak. Epidemiologist Chad Smelser said one death has been confirmed, two more are pending CDC results, reported FoxNews.

Yesterday we wrote that Jensen Farms is collaborating with the State of Colorado, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the CDC, and other state health agencies to look into the multi-state Listeria poisoning outbreak.

Meanwhile, Safeway Inc. announced that, in response to Jensen’s recall, it recalled jumbo cantaloupes supplied by Jensen Farms and sold in Colorado; Nebraska; Aztec and Farmington, New Mexico; South Dakota; and Wyoming from August 30th through September 6th, said FoxNews. Cantaloupes in Safeway stores now are not from the Rocky Ford region.

And, lawsuits are being to be filed. Tammie Palmer from Colorado Springs, said that her husband, Charles (71), is still hospitalized following consumption of contaminated cantaloupe, wrote FoxNews. Mrs. Palmer has filed a lawsuit against Jensen Farms and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., where the cantaloupe was bought. More lawsuits are expected.

Palmer told The Associated Press (AP) that her husband fell ill on August 31, was rushed to the hospital, and was diagnosed with Listeria monocytogenes poisoning, FoxNews reported. “He wasn’t able to talk to me for five days. When I talked to him, his eyes rolled into the back of his head. It’s been a nightmare,” Mrs. Palmer told the AP.

Consumption of food contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes pathogen can cause listeriosis, 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.

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