Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak: More Deaths Likely

And it's already the deadliest food-borne illness outbreak in years

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 29, 2011 3:07 PM CDT

(Newser) – The cantaloupe-borne listeria outbreak has now spread to 18 states, and it’ll probably get worse before it gets better, health officials tell the LA Times. While the official death toll is still at 13, that’s expected to rise as more testing is done on suspected listeria victims, and as more fall ill from already devoured melons—illness can strike up to two months after a tainted melon is eaten.

“This is the deadliest outbreak of a food-borne disease that we've identified in more than a decade,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden said. “We do anticipate there will be a rising number of cases in the days and weeks to come.” Officials still aren’t sure how the cantaloupes were infected, according to USA Today, but they know it’s isolated to ones grown in Holly, Colorado. “If it’s not Jensen Farms, it’s OK to eat,” says Frieden. “But if you’re in doubt, throw it out.”

Cantaloupes rot in the afternoon heat on a field on the Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011.
Cantaloupes rot in the afternoon heat on a field on the Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011.   (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
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