The government has confirmed listeria cases related to Colorado-grown cantaloupes in 25 states. A total of 116 people were sickened by the outbreak.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Colorado has reported the highest number of illnesses, at 34. Other states in double-digits include Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.
The CDC also updated the total number or related deaths to 23. At last report, that number was 18.
In addition, one pregnant woman who became ill with the listeria had a miscarriage.
Laboratory tests have connected the strains of Listeria to melons of the "Rocky Ford" variety grown by Jensen Farms in Holly, CO. That particular variety is prized for having a higher sugar contact, and was developed in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado during the late 1800’s.
The state of Colorado says it has tested melon samples from the refrigerator of a Listeria patient’s home, as well as samples obtained from various retail outlets. They were also traced to Jensen Farms.
Jensen Farms has voluntarily recalled the melons in question, which it says were shipped between July 29 and September 10. They were sent to Illinois, Wyoming, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
They carry stickers that say either, “Product of USA –Frontera Produce – Colorado Fresh – Rocky Ford” or “”Jensen Farms – Sweet Rocky Fords.”
Anyone who has, or may have had cantaloupes from Jensen Farms is advised to throw them away. Do not try to clean the melons.
Additionally, the CDC warned that Listeria can continue to grow - even inside a refrigerator. Caution is advised for everyone who may have had one of the recalled melons, but specifically for people who are at high risk.
The FDA has said this is the first known outbreak of Listeria related to cantaloupe. The ten cantaloupe-related outbreaks in the past decade were connected to salmonella or a virus.
The worst outbreak of Listeria on record was in 1985 and traced back to Mexican-style cheese.
The FDA says it has a team working with a team from Colorado to do an environmental assessment at Jensen Farm's facilities. As part of that work, they're looking at potential contamination from animals, water and the processing facility. So far, they've not reached any conclusions.
Lawsuits have been filed against Jensen Farms. According to one lawsuit, obtained by 11 News, Charles and Tammy Palmer are alleging that a cantaloupe distributed by Jensen Farms and sold at a Walmart on Razorback Road in the Springs caused Charles to fall ill with Listeria.
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