The death toll has risen to eight in an outbreak of listeria to Colorado-grown cantaloupes, officials said Wednesday.
It is the highest outbreak death count since tainted peanuts were linked to nine deaths almost three years ago. And the death count has the potential to rise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that a person in Maryland died from eating the tainted produce. As The Christian Post previously reported, four deaths were reported in New Mexico, two in Colorado and one in Oklahoma.
The CDC said 55 people in 14 states have now been confirmed as taken seriously ill after eating the cantaloupes. On Monday, the CDC reported four deaths and 35 illnesses in 10 states.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, listeria was found in samples of Jensen Farms’ cantaloupes taken from a Denver-area store and on samples taken from equipment and cantaloupes at the farm’s packing facility.
Jensen Farms have since recalled the cantaloupes shipped from July 29 through Sept. 10 to Illinois, Wyoming, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
The FDA warns that not all cantaloupes are labeled with a sticker and it is possible the company distributed to other states as well. Recalled cantaloupe may be labeled “Colorado Grown”, “Distributed by Frontera Produce”, “Jensenfarms.com,” or “Sweet Rocky Fords.”
The incubation period for listera can be up to a month. Symptoms of listeria include fever, muscle aches often with other gastrointestinal symptoms. Pregnant women are at high risk for listeriosis as infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. Others at risk are those with weakened immune system and adults over 60.
In a statement, Jensen Farms said: "We are deeply saddened to learn that cantaloupes grown on our farm have been linked to the current listeria outbreak. Our hearts go out to those individuals and their families who have been affected by this terrible situation."
Around 800 people a year in the U.S. are affected by listeria outbreaks. They are not typically associated with produce, but bacteria were found in sprouts in 2009 and celery in 2010.
This is the first Listeria outbreak in the U.S. linked to cantaloupe but not the first time cantaloupes were in question. In March of this year, Del Monte, a major seller of cantaloupe in the United States, sued the FDA and the state of Oregon over a cantaloupe recall.