The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that an outbreak of listeria in farm-grown cantaloupes has killed 23 people and sickened 116 more in the United States since late July.
Illnesses have been reported in 25 states due to cantaloupes from Colorado-based Jensen Farms, the CDC said. A recall was issued on September 14 and all the bad fruit should be off store shelves by now.
The CDC issued a statement that said: “More ill persons may be reported because of the time lag between diagnosis and laboratory confirmation and also because up to two months can elapse between eating contaminated food and developing listeriosis."
The cases mark the worst US foodborne disease outbreak in more than a decade, and the first time listeria has been found in whole melons. Investigators are still trying to find out how the contamination occurred.
Listeriosis can cause diarrhea, fever, muscle aches and other flu-like symptoms. In most people, the bacteria spreads from the intestine to the bloodstream, but can be treated with antibiotics.
It is particularly dangerous to the elderly, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women because it can cause miscarriage or stillbirth. A woman who was pregnant and fell ill with listeriosis after eating a contaminated cantaloupe also miscarried.
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