Listeria Outbreak: Death Toll Rises to 29, 139 Infected

The death toll of the recent listeria outbreak rose to 29 as another death was reported on Wednesday.

The outbreak was caused by cantaloupes at Jensen Farms in Colorado. It is speculated to be the result of unclean working conditions and equipment that is difficult to clean, according to health officials.

The United States Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to Jensen Farms last month and claimed the packing plant "indicates poor sanitary practices in the facility."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 people have died and 139 people across 28 states have contracted Listeriosis, a dangerous infection caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes.

There have been eight deaths in Colorado, five in New Mexico and three in Kansas. Two deaths each in the states of New York, Texas, Missouri, and one death each in the states of Maryland, Nebraska, Indiana, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

The CDC also said a pregnant woman infected with the illness suffered a miscarriage.

The listeria bacteria are found in soil, water and animals. It can infect raw foods, such as vegetables and fruits, along with processed meats, soft cheeses, seafood, and unpasteurized milk. The bacterium is a dangerous threat because it could grow in foods at room temperature or refrigerated.

A few of the primary symptoms of Listeriosis include fever, confusion, diarrhea and possible convulsions. The symptoms might not rear until two months after the consumption of infected foods. The bacteria can be found by blood or spinal fluid tests.

Those with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, pregnant, or newly born, are at high risk for contracting the illness. The Center for Disease Control is recommending that anyone with these high risk factors avoid eating the fruit.

People who have died from Listeriosis are between the ages of 48 and 96, and the average age is 81, according to the CDC.

The listeria outbreak has become one of the most deadly U.S. food-borne outbreaks in the history of the country.