Sep 30, 2011 7:19 PM by Stephanie Collins
A third person has died of Listeria in Colorado after eating cantaloupe from Jensen Farms; it puts the nationwide death toll to as many at 17 people. The CDC also updated the number of those infected today to 84 in 19 states, and that number could continue to go up as it takes several weeks for symptoms to show up.
The FDA and health departments around the country are still investigating the outbreak, and were now learning that washing the cantaloupes might not be enough. They haven't figured out yet if the Listeria contamination is on the outside of the melons, the inside, or both, "The scientific information about what part of the cantaloupe has been contaminated has not been completed yet, and has not been released from the FDA," says Dr. Bernadette Albanese, Medical Director at El Paso County Public Health.
So figuring that out is one of the next steps in the investigation. The FDA was able to trace the outbreak back to Jensen Farms in Holly, but now investigators need to figure out how the cantaloupes became contaminated in the first place. They're looking into how food is grown, produced and processed on the farm but it might be a while before we know all the answers, "Look for where there may have been errors or breeches or may have been problems. Where there may have just been environmental contamination, a lot of these organisms are in the environment," adds Dr. Albanese.
El Paso County Public Health says Listeria is extremely rare, we usually don't see any cases in El Paso County, but so far there have been five since August. Two of those cases are confirmed, the others are still being investigated. One person in El Paso County has died from the outbreak.
Listeria symptoms include fever, muscle aches and nausea. If you have cantaloupes from Jensen Farms or are unsure where the fruit is from, just throw it away.