Listeria Outbreak Nationwide and in Florida from Cantaloupe Grown in Colorado

Posted on September 30, 2011

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there have been 72 people nationwide sickened with four strains of Listeria monocytogenes in 18 states including Florida. The illness began showing up after July 31, 2011 and was traced back to a farm in Granada, Colorado that grew the Rocky Ford type of cantaloupe, named for the region where it’s grown. Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall on September 14.

So far there has been one person in Florida infected. Texas has 14 illnesses, while New Mexico has 10 and Colorado 15. Thirteen deaths have been reported – 2 in Colorado, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in New Mexico , 1 in Oklahoma, 2 in Texas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri and 1 in Kansas.

Consumers are being urged not to eat any Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, while other cantaloupes are safe to eat. If you don’t know where it comes from, the CDC recommends you discard the fruit.

Listeria Contamination

Listeriosis is an infection that comes from eating the Listeria bacteria. Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, diarrhea or gastrointestinal symptoms. The illness is treated with antibiotics. Listeria can grow on the fruit whether it is in room or refrigerator temperatures. In this case, outbreaks have occurred in states where the fruit is not shipped. The company says it is sometimes sold and resold.

Persons particularly at risk are older adults, individuals with a weakened immune system and pregnant women. The average age of those sickened is 60 years old. Ninety-nine percent were hospitalized.

As to the source?

While it has not been pinpointed, the likely suspect is the farm’s water supply. If water is contaminated by animal droppings it can become a perfect place for Listeria growth since the bacteria thrives in moist, muddy conditions and is often carried by animals. Since the bacteria is hearty, it’s advised to wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have touched the fruit.

If you are injured by a dangerous product, you may be eligible to recover the cost of your medical bills and hospitalization as well as lost wages under Florida’s product liability laws.


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