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Cantaloupe Recall Expands As More Deaths Are Reported

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Buffalo, NYAs more reports come in of people suffering from listeria contamination linked to the recent cantaloupe recall, the recall on cantaloupe itself has been expanded. According to NPR (10/07/11), the 2011 cantaloupe recall now involves precut fruit salads, which reportedly contain cantaloupe linked to the listeria outbreak.

The fruit included in the recall was sold between August 31 and September 11 at a variety of stores and includes precut cantaloupe, which is believed to be contaminated. So far, no injuries have been linked to the fruit salad, although the number of injuries and illnesses linked to the recalled cantaloupe is expected to grow.

As of October 7, at least 21 deaths, 109 illnesses and one miscarriage have been linked to cantaloupe contaminated with listeria. Because listeria can take more than a month to cause illness—and in some cases up to two months—that number is expected to increase, although all affected fruit should now be off store shelves. Among those most susceptible to listeria illness are people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and elderly people.

The cantaloupe was shipped to a variety of states; so far 24 states have reported cases of listeria, including five deaths in New Mexico and Colorado, and two deaths each in Kansas and Texas, according to CNN (10/07/11). Symptoms of listeriosis—caused by listeria—vary from person to person, but often involve fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), other symptoms can include headache, confusion, convulsions, loss of balance and stiff neck. In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery.

Lawsuits have reportedly been filed against the companies linked to the listeriosis outbreak, alleging that some consumers died or became severely ill after eating contaminated cantaloupe.

The cantaloupe involved in the listeria outbreak was linked to Jensen Farms and Rocky Ford Cantaloupes in Colorado. On September 14, 2011, Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of the contaminated cantaloupe, affecting more than 300,000 cases of cantaloupe, after they were linked to an outbreak of listeriosis.

Listeria can survive at low temperatures, meaning that refrigeration will not kill it. It is also easily transmitted, so fridges that contained the contaminated fruit should be washed thoroughly.

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