Cantaloupe Death Toll Rising, May Hit 16
CDC reports 13 confirmed deaths and 72 illnesses from listeria outbreak
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 27, 2011 7:14 PM CDT
An operator of a fruit and vegetable stand near Denver holds a California-grown cantaloupe for sale at her business on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011.   (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

(Newser) – Health officials say at least 13 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, making it the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade. The CDC said today that 72 illnesses and 13 deaths are linked to the tainted fruit. Most of the victims were age 60 or older, with seniors and young children the most susceptible, notes the New York Times. State and local officials are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

The figures released by the CDC, including newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas, surpassed the number of deaths linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak. Last week, the CDC reported deaths in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Maryland. The cantaloupes are marketed under the name Rocky Mountain cantaloupes.