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Listeria Outbreak in Cantaloupe Responsible for Illnesses and Deaths

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday the bacteria listeria, recently found in a batch of Colorado cantaloupes, is now being blamed for 72 illnesses and as many as 16 deaths.

Cases have been reported in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

While salmonella and E. coli are better-known pathogens that generally cause many more illnesses, listeria is deadlier and only sickens those with compromised immune systems, such as pregnant women and the elderly. The CDC reports that one in five who contract it can die.

The recalled Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes from Jensen Farms may be labeled “Colorado Grown,” ”Distributed by Frontera Produce,” ”” or “Sweet Rocky Fords,” but not all of the cantaloupes are labeled with a sticker. The CDC and FDA say contaminated cantaloupes should be thrown out immediately and that any surfaces they may have touched should be cleaned and sanitized.

[Yahoo! via Associated Press]

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