CDC Updates Listeria Outbreak Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that as of Sept. 29, 2011, a total of 84 persons infected with any of the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported to CDC from 19 states. All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011.

The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1) California (1), Colorado (17), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (3), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (13), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (11), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (2).

Fifteen deaths have been reported: 3 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 5 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas.

On Sept. 14, 2011, FDA issued a press release to announce that Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes after being linked to a multistate outbreak of listeriosis.

Although Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes on September 14 and the recalled cantaloupe should be off store shelves, more ill persons may be reported because of the time lag between diagnosis and laboratory confirmation and also because up to 2 months can elapse between eating contaminated food and developing listeriosis.

CDC recommends that consumers not eat Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe from Jensen farms. This is especially important for older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.

Even if some of the cantaloupe has been eaten without becoming ill, dispose of the rest of the cantaloupe immediately. Listeria bacteria can grow in the cantaloupe at room and refrigerator temperatures.

Cantaloupes that are known to not have come from Jensen Farms are safe to eat. If consumers are uncertain about the source of a cantaloupe for purchase, they should ask the grocery store. A cantaloupe purchased from an unknown source should be discarded: "when in doubt, throw it out."

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