Death Toll From Cantaloupe-Linked Listeria Outbreak Now
Stands at 2310/12/11
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The death toll from an
outbreak of listeria first linked to tainted cantaloupes has risen
to 23, and a total of 116 people have been sickened across 25
states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reported late Wednesday.
The agency said that even though the cantaloupes in question
were recalled Sept. 14, more cases might still emerge since
Listeria monocytogenes infection has a long lag time between
diagnosis and laboratory confirmation "and also because up to two
months can elapse between eating contaminated food and developing
The listeriosis-linked deaths have occurred in Colorado (5),
Indiana (1), Kansas (2), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (1),
Nebraska (1), New Mexico (5), New York (1), Oklahoma (1), Texas (2)
and Wyoming (1), the CDC said. One pregnant woman who contracted
the illness had a miscarriage, the CDC said.
On Sept. 14, the agency announced that Jensen Farms, of Granada,
Colo., had voluntarily recalled its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes
and the produce is "now off store shelves." Consumers -- especially
older adults, people with weakened immune systems and pregnant
women -- should discard this brand of cantaloupe if it is in their
refrigerator, the agency said. Other brands of cantaloupe are safe
to consume, however.
According to the
Wall Street Journal, the death toll from the current outbreak is on track to exceed that of the nation's worst listeria outbreak, in 1998, which was linked to hot dogs and killed 21 people while sickening 100 more.
In a news conference recently, CDC director Dr. Thomas R.
Frieden called the cantaloupe-linked outbreak "the deadliest
outbreak of a foodborne disease that we've identified in more than
Unlike other bacteria, listeria can flourish in colder
temperatures. So, "if you've got a contaminated cantaloupe in your
refrigerator, the listeria will continue to grow," Frieden said.
"That's one of the reasons why we may see continued cases from
cantaloupe already in people's refrigerators in the days and weeks
Although listeria tends to infect fewer people, it is typically
deadlier than other foodborne pathogens and inordinately affects
the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened
immune system. People can develop meningitis from the organism, but
many people only experience milder diarrhea.
According to the CDC, some 1,600 cases are reported annually in
the United States, resulting in 260 deaths.
The bacterium tends to grow in soil and water. But animals can
also carry the organism and pass it on to humans through meats,
dairy products and other foods of animal origins. Most listeria
outbreaks are from animal products, not produce, the CDC said.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on
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