Public Health Alert Update – Illinoisan infected in Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Rocky Ford Cantaloupes

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

                       A total of 35 people in 10 states have

                      been infected in the multistate outbreak of

                      listeriosis linked to Rocky Ford Cantaloupes shipped

                      by Jensen Farms in Colorado, including a suburban

                      Cook County woman, the Illinois Department of Public

                      Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and

                      Prevention (CDC) have confirmed.

                      IDPH along with local health departments in Illinois

                      has been collaborating with CDC and the U.S. Food and

                      Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the

                      multistate outbreak of listeriosis, a serious

                      infection caused by eating food contaminated with the

                      Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The FDA also

                      reported the Rocky Ford Cantaloupes—voluntarily

                      recalled by Jensen Farms on September 14—were

                      distributed in at least 17 states, including

                      Illinois. Both the FDA and CDC have recommended that

                      consumers not eat Rocky Ford Cantaloupes from Jensen

                      Farms.

                      The 82-year-old Illinois woman became ill on

                      September 7th after she reported that she ate a

                      cantaloupe from a store where the recalled

                      cantaloupes were sold. She was subsequently

                      hospitalized.

                      The number of infected persons identified in each

                      state is as follows: Colorado (12), Oklahoma (6), New

                      Mexico (5), Nebraska (4), Texas (3), Illinois (1),

                      Indiana (1) Nebraska (1), Montana (1) and West

                      Virginia (1). The infected patients range in age from

                      38 to 96 years old, with a median age of 81. Most are

                      over 60 years old or have health conditions that

                      weaken the immune system. Twenty-eight ill persons

                      were hospitalized, and four deaths have been

                      reported.

                      Signs and Symptoms

                      The symptoms of Listeria infection vary with the

                      infected person:

                      • Persons other than pregnant women: Symptoms, in

                      addition to fever and muscle aches, can include

                      headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and

                      convulsions. Some persons may have symptoms of fever,

                      watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, and

                      pains in joints and muscles.

                      • Pregnant women: Pregnant women may develop fever,

                      chills, and back pain, but typically experience only

                      a mild, flu-like illness. However, infections during

                      pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth,

                      premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of

                      the newborn.

                      Recommendations

                      IDPH is reminding people to follow all food safety

                      recommendations to avoid potential illness, as

                      contaminated cantaloupes may still be in grocery

                      stores and in consumers' homes.

                      • Persons at high risk for listeriosis, including

                      older adults, persons with weakened immune systems,

                      and pregnant women, should not eat Rocky Ford

                      Cantaloupes marketed as coming from Jensen Farms of

                      Colorado.

                      • Consumers who have Rocky Ford Cantaloupes in their

                      homes can check the label or inquire at the store

                      where they purchased it to determine if the fruit was

                      marketed as coming from Jensen Farms of Colorado.

                      • Persons who think they might have become ill from

                      eating possibly contaminated cantaloupes should

                      consult their doctor immediately.

                      • Rocky Ford Cantaloupes marketed as coming from

                      Jensen Farms should be disposed of in a closed

                      plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will

                      prevent people or animals from eating them.

                      General Melon Safety Advice:

                      • Consumers and food preparers should wash their

                      hands before and after handling any whole melon, such

                      as cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew.

                      • Wash the melons and dry them with a clean cloth or

                      paper towel before cutting.

                      • Cut melon should be promptly consumed or

                      refrigerated at or less than 40 degrees F (32-34

                      degrees F is optimal for storage of cut melon).

                      • Cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4

                      hours should be discarded.

                      More information about Listeriosis and

                      recommendations to reduce risk of getting Listeriosis

                      from food can be found at the CDC's Listeriosis

                      webpage.

                      More information about FDA Safety Recalls:

                      http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm271882.htm

                      More general information about listeriosis can also

                      be found at the IDPH website:

                      http://www.idph.state.il.us/health/infect/reportdis/listeria.htm