On heels of summer listeria outbreak, more listeria cases found in cantaloupes

Cantaloupes
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On the heels of a deadly listeria outbreak in Colorado over the summer, the listeria disease is now spreading, infecting more and more people. At least two people have died, with at least 22 across seven states becoming infected.

In the U.S., an estimated 1,850 people become infected with listeria each year. It is one of the more uncommon diseases but can be fatal. People with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for catching Listeria, including pregnant women, the elderly and young children. Pregnant women are roughly 20 times more likely to catch Listeria than other members of the population, and about one third of all cases reported are in pregnant women. A pregnant woman getting listeria can result in spontaneous abortion during the second and third trimesters or stillbirth.

Symptoms of listeria include fever, muscle aches and, sometimes, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Sometimes the infection can spread to the nervous system, and if it does, the infected person will likely experience headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions.

Originally, officials could not identify the source of the listeria outbreak. Officials were only able to give general warnings about prevention of listeria.

"Until we have more information about the sources of this outbreak, it is important for people to follow the standard (federal) guidelines" on listeria, Alicia Cronquist, a state epidemiologist, said in a statement at the time. "People who are at high risk for Listeria infection can decrease their risk by avoiding soft cheeses such as queso fresco and brie unless they are made with pasteurized milk, hot dogs and deli meats unless reheated to an internal temperature of 165 F, refrigerated pâté́ or meat spreads, or refrigerated smoked seafood."

Since the initial outbreaks, it has been discovered that tainted cantaloupes were to blame for many of the cases of listeria. Jensen Farms, located in Colorado, where the outbreak first started, is now being sued by a listeria victim.

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Charlie Palmer was rushed to an emergency room two weeks ago, after he began experiencing symptoms of listeria, which is a potentially fatal disease if left untreated. He and his wife had no idea his symptoms were linked to the cantaloupe he’d eaten two weeks before the symptoms got bad enough to go to the hospital. Charlie is 71, and he was experiencing chills, muscle ache, nausea and fever.

More than 30,000 cases of cantaloupes from Jensen Farms have now been recalled in 17 states because of the potential for listeria.

"It really comes -- it's really personal to us. It's deeply troublesome for us," Jensen Farms owner Eric Jensen said in an ABC News story.

Though Jensen Farms has offered to destroy the remaining cantaloupes, the Palmers say they want more than that. They are now filling a lawsuit against the company. They say the cantaloupe they bought from a neighborhood Wal-Mart tested positive for listeria.

"You don't know what to trust, what to buy," Tammy Palmer said in the same ABC News story. "I just can't believe it. I'm still in shock," she said about her husband, who is still sick in the hospital. "I want him home. I want him by my side."

The tainted cantaloupes that came from Jensen Farms were shipped between July 29 and Sept.10 and were distributed in the following states: Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Image source of Cantaloupes: Wikipedia

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