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One More Food Borne Illness to Add to the Growing List…. Listeriosis…A Rare But Deadly Illness Emerges From Colorado Cantaloupe

September 30, 2011

A new source of infection? This is the first time a Listeria contamination has occurred in cantaloupe, and health officials are working to determine how this happened.

Listeriosis?? No, it is not what it sounds like…(an allergy to your to do list???). Listeriosis is a deadly bacteria found in soil, water and animal feces. Humans typically are infected by consuming:

  • Raw vegetables that have been contaminated from the soil or from contaminated manure used as fertilizer
  • Infected meat
  • Unpasteurized milk or foods made with unpasteurized milk
  • Certain processed foods — such as soft cheeses, hot dogs and deli meats that have been contaminated after processing

A listeria infection typically has the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may begin a few days after you’ve eaten contaminated food, but it may take as long as two months before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin.  If the listeria infection spreads to your nervous system, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion or changes in alertness
  • Loss of balance
  • Convulsions

If you experience a high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, confusion or sensitivity to light, seek emergency care. These signs and symptoms may indicate bacterial meningitis, a life-threatening complication of a listeria infection.

The current Listeria outbreak has sickened at least 72 people across 18 states and killed at least 13 people.  Listeria is a rare, but deadly disease. The individuals most at risk are the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. However, even those without weakened immune systems can develop fever and diarrhea. The CDC is recommending if you have cantaloupe in your fridge and you are in doubt about where it came from, then throw it out.”

Infected states to date.

This is the first time a Listeria contamination has occurred in cantaloupe, and health officials are working to determine how this happened.  The infected cantaloupes are reported to have come from the Rocky Ford region of Colorado. Reports of illness began on July 31. Since that time, those infected have been identified in California (1), Colorado (15), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (10), Oklahoma (8), Texas (14), Virginia (1) and West Virginia (1). Two deaths have been reported in Colorado, one in Kansas, one in Maryland, one in Missouri, one in Nebraska, four in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and two in Texas, according to the CDC.

For more information, check out the websites below:

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