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109 Cases, 21 Deaths in Listeria Cantaloupe Outbreak

With the Listeria outbreak tied to cantaloupes becoming more widespread, the toll as of 9 a.m. Oct. 6 had climbed to 109 cases and 21 deaths over 24 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Since the CDC’s last update Oct. 4, that’s 9 more illnesses and 3 more deaths linked to Jensen Farms melons from Colorado, with Iowa, New York, Oregon and South Dakota reporting their first outbreak cases.

In addition, one pregnant woman infected with Listeria had a miscarriage, the CDC confirmed. The outcome of two other pregnancies is being monitored.

The confirmed cases so far since July 31:

Alabama: 1 illness

Arkansas: 1 illness

California: 1 illness

Colorado: 32 illnesses, 5 deaths

Idaho: 1 illness

Illinois: 1 illness

Indiana: 2 illnesses, 1 death

Iowa: 1 illness

Kansas: 7 illnesses, 2 deaths

Maryland: 1 illness, 1 death

Missouri: 3 illnesses, 1 death

Montana: 1 illness

Nebraska: 6 illnesses, 1 death

New Mexico: 13 illnesses, 5 deaths

New York: 1 illness, 1 death

North Dakota: 1 illness

Oklahoma: 11 illnesses, 1 death

Oregon: 1 illness

South Dakota: 1 illness

Texas: 16 illnesses, 2 deaths

Virginia: 1 illness

West Virginia: 1 illness

Wisconsin: 2 illnesses

Wyoming: 3 illnesses, 1 death

Patients’ ages range from 22 to 96 years, with a median age of 77.  Of the 107 patients with information available, 105 (98 percent) were hospitalized, the CDC said. 

About 800 cases of Listeria infection are confirmed in the U.S. every year. The foods that typically have caused outbreaks have been deli meats, hot dogs and soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. But some outbreaks have involved fresh produce.  Celery was implicated in an outbreak that sickened 10 and killed 5 in 2010, and sprouts caused an outbreak in 2009. In 1981 a Listeria outbreak in Canada that sickened seven adults and caused 34 perinatal infections was linked to cabbage.

The CDC has said it expects reports of cases to continue for weeks, because the incubation period for listeriosis is up to 2 months. Older adults, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women are most vulnerable to the disease. 

Jensen Farms in Colorado recalled its cantaloupes on Sept. 14 and by now all of the suspect melons likely have been removed from the market. Cantaloupes that did not come from Jensen Farms are safe to eat, the CDC said.

CDC Outbreak Map:


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