Listeria Outbreak in Cantaloupes is Deadliest Food Illness Outbreak in a Decade
The Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") reports that the recent multi-state outbreak of listeria linked to cantaloupes is the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in more than a decade.
Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, which is being linked to Colorado cantaloupes, can cause listeriosis, a potentially fatal disease in young children, pregnant women, the elderly or others with compromised immune systems. Symptoms vary and may include fever, muscle ache, headache and often gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramps, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.
The outbreak is now linked to 13 deaths and 72 illnesses. Three additional deaths are being investigated. According to the CDC, the median age of infected persons is 78; and one in five people who contract the disease can die.
Listeria infections have been reported by 18 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Because the incubation period for listeria can be as long as four weeks before a person becomes sick after eating contaminated food, the CDC anticipates more illnesses in the coming weeks linked to the outbreak.
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