Harold Mandel, Health Examiner
September 25, 2011
There has been deep concern almost to the point of panic spreading among sectors of the public across the United States who have been made aware of a multi-state potentially fatal listeriosis outbreak. Cole Petrochko has reported for MedPage Today “FDA Confirms Listeria Outbreak Spread to 14 States.”
The FDA has reported that a multi-state listeriosis outbreak has now spread to 14 states and has sickened 55 patients, eight of whom have died. This outbreak initially affected 15 patients in four states, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, and has been traced to whole cantaloupes from a Colorado distributor. It has since been reported by the CDC that associated infections have now also been reported in California, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The first reports of infection were filed on August 4 and involved patients who had consumed whole cantaloupe which was from Jensen Farms’ Rocky Ford brand. Two deaths were reported at the time. Than after tests performed on cantaloupe samples and on equipment at a company packing facility were found to match one of three Listeria monocytogenes strains found in the affected patients the FDA confirmed the Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes were the source of infection.
The FDA noted in a statement confirming the source of the outbreak source that the affected produce was shipped from July 29 to Sept. 10 to at least 17 states, and that the contagious crop may have been further shipped past state lines. It has been advised that consumers who have purchased Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe should discard it immediately.
Listeria bacteria has been shown to be able to survive the cold of a refrigerator and washing the fruit may not clean the skin of the cantaloupe of germs. After the fruit is cut, bacteria from outside may be transferred inside. Listeriosis can be fatal, particularly to older and immunocompromised patients, as well as to the babies of pregnant mothers.