Listeria deaths prompt CDC warning about cantaloupe

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A Listeria outbreak that has spread to six states has prompted health officials to issue a warning to high-risk consumers to stay clear of cantaloupes produced from the Rocky Ford region of Colorado.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this marks the first Listeria outbreak in the US linked to cantaloupe.  According to CBSNews, the outbreak has caused one death in Colorado and three deaths in New Mexico.

Colorado health director Chris Urbina told CBS that people age 60 and older are more liable to develop listeriosis, along with people with chronic diseases, and people with weakened immune systems from transplants.

CDC advised people with cantaloupes at home check to see if they’re from the Rocky Ford region, and if so, to not eat the melons if they’re in a high-risk group.  You can check the label, or contact the store where the cantaloupe was purchased.  The agency also recommended putting the cantaloupes in a sealed plastic bag before placing them in the trash.

Symptoms of listeriosis include fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea.  Other symptoms include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.  Listeria germs occur naturally in sold and water, including those eaten by humans, and can  be found in raw foods, including meats, vegetables, soft cheese, hot dogs, and smoked seafood.  The germs can be killed off by cooking or pasteurization.

Photo courtesy of News21-usa via Flickr

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