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Recent Listeria Outbreak in Cantaloupe: The Dangers and Symptoms

At least 16 deaths and more than 70 illnesses have been linked to the recent listeria infection arising from tainted cantaloupes.  The listeria outbreak in cantaloupe has been noted as the deadliest outbreak of food-related illnesses in more than 10 years in the United States.

What makes this food-borne illness particularly scary is that symptoms of listeria infection can take weeks to become apparent.  According to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, “we will see more cases likely through October.”

According to an NBC News report, to prevent listeria infection, people should not try to wash bacteria from a suspect cantaloupe because the bacteria can spread to the inside of the fruit.

The listeria contamination was traced to Jensen Farms in Colorado.  According to a press release from the FDA, which can be seen here, Jensen Farms voluntarily recalled cantaloupes on September 14.  The affected cantaloupes had been shipped from Jensen Farms between July 29 and September 10 to 25 different states.  It is important to note, however, that listeria cases have appeared in states where the cantaloupes were not shipped.

The Center For Disease Control has warned consumers to throw away suspect cantaloupes if they are concerned or are unsure as to where they are from.

The Mayo Clinic reported that listeria infection is most dangerous to women who are pregnant and people who have impaired immunity systems, including the elderly, people with AIDS, people undergoing chemotherapy or organ-rejection medications, or people with diabetes or kidney diseases.

The symptoms for a listeria infection can be flu-like:  fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and nausea and can appear several days or even weeks after eating listeria-contaminated food, according to the Mayo Clinic.  However, if the infection reaches your nervous system, additional symptoms can include headache, convulsions, confusion and loss of balance.

Pregnant women can infect their baby with listeria which could lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature birth or fatal infection after the baby is born, reported the May Clinic.  For babies, signs of listeria infection include fever, vomiting, low interest in being fed and irritability.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact the attorneys at Mazow and McCullough, PC.

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