NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe they have traced the listeria outbreak that has sickened individuals in four states and has led to at least one death back to cantaloupes in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado.
Fifteen cases of listeria contamination have been linked to the cantaloupes in Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, and the agency is also investigating listeriosis illnesses, which are caused by the bacteria, in several other states to determine if they are part of the same outbreak.
The New Mexico Department of Health said Tuesday that it had identified listeria infections in nine individuals, three of which led to deaths, but it has yet to confirm if this is the same strain affecting people in other states.
And while preliminary tests found listeria on cantaloupes from the Rocky Ford region east of the city of Pueblo, Colo., federal and state health authorities are still working to determine the exact source of contamination.
According to the CDC, listeria is a serious bacterial infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and newborns. Its symptoms, which vary from person to person, typically include fever and muscle aches and can also include headache, stiffness in the neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.
Pregnant women usually only experience flu-like symptoms when exposed to the bacteria, but the infections can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infections.
As such, the CDC has advised all consumers considered to be at high risk for listeria infection to refrain from eating cantaloupes marketed as coming from the Rocky Ford area. Consumers should check the labels on the fruit or ask store clerks where the produce came from.
Cantaloupes identified as coming from the Rocky Ford region should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can to prevent other people or animals from eating them and spreading the bacteria.
Any person who thinks they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated cantaloupes should consult their doctor immediately, the CDC says.
—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.