Cantaloupes Suspected in Multistate Listeria Food Poisoning Outbreak

Federal health regulators believe that cantaloupes could be responsible for a string of listeria food poisoning cases across the southwest, and New Mexico officials are wondering if the same outbreak was responsible for three deaths and a number of illnesses there as well. 

The FDA reports that at least 15 people have been infected with a strain of Listeria monocytogenes in Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas that could be linked to cantaloupes grown in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado. The majority of the food poisoning victims report having eaten cantaloupes from that area before falling ill.

The day before the FDA’s warning, New Mexico reported that it had tracked 9 cases of listeria in the state that also appear to be linked to cantaloupes. Three of those cases have resulted in death.

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Fatal cases of listeriosis killed a 93-year-old man and a 63-year-old man in Bernalillo County, and a 61-year-old woman in Curry County. According to New Mexico Department of Health officials, the illnesses occurred between August 20 and early September.

At this point, it has not been confirmed whether the two outbreaks are connected. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the process of testing the New Mexico cases to see if both groups of people were made ill by the same strain.

Listeria infections, also known as listeriosis, pose a particular risk for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. For pregnant women, illness from Listeria bacteria can cause miscarriages and still births. The fatality rate associated with listeriosis is about 25%.

Blood tests are usually required to diagnose listeriosis, which can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of listeriosis include muscle aches, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, severe headaches and fever. If the bacteria spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and nervous system, it could cause meningitis and other complications.

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4 Comments

  • ToniNovember 3, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I had not heard about any food poisening due to canalope and I just ate 1/2 a cantalope this morning 11/3/2011 purchased from Lewis Foods in Waukegan,IL. It was cut in half and the 2 in one package sold for 40 cents.The brand is Turlockfruit.com Peacock USA #4050 Should I have this other half tested? Where do you go? I'm not sick yet but just heard about the recall on the news 1/2 hr ago. I guess[Show More]I had not heard about any food poisening due to canalope and I just ate 1/2 a cantalope this morning 11/3/2011 purchased from Lewis Foods in Waukegan,IL. It was cut in half and the 2 in one package sold for 40 cents.The brand is Turlockfruit.com Peacock USA #4050 Should I have this other half tested? Where do you go? I'm not sick yet but just heard about the recall on the news 1/2 hr ago. I guess I will find out soon enough.

  • CassandraSeptember 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I had extreme food poisoning over the last weekend - never been sicker. I had eaten half of a cantaloupe from Turlockfruit.com Peacock USA #4050 . This is the only thing I had eaten that my partner had not. My symptoms were a complete purge of all I had eaten - both diarreah and vomiting,

  • JanSeptember 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I have been sick with cramps and bloating for two days now. I did not sleep from the pain last night. I bought the cantalope in Wisconsin. Could this be related to the Colorado incident?

  • JanSeptember 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I think that I have food poisioning from a cantalope that I bought in Wisconsin. Is this possible? Has anyone else in Wisconsin had any issues here? I ate the cantalope for two days in a row before I put it down the garbage disposal! It kept me up all night last night. I have had bloating and cramps for two days now.

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