Cantaloupes. As if we have not had enough food borne illnesses. Hot dogs, sprouts, tomatoes, macaroni salads, and now cantaloupes. The CDC has reported that there have been at least 72 cases and 13 deaths of listeriosis, a bacterial infection that can be acquired from various foods. The reported cases have all developed after August 4. The end date of this outbreak has not yet been determined. Listeriosis is particularly serious in pregnant woman and those with compromised immune systems. People in 14 states, including New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado have become ill after having eaten cantaloupes grown in Colorado. So far, one case has been diagnosed in California. The fruit in question was grown at Jensen Farms, Holly Colorado, in the Rocky Ford area of the state. Jensen has voluntarily recalled cantaloupes shipped from July 29 through September 10. These cantaloupes may have one of 2 stickers: a green and white sticker that says “Product of USA – Frontera Produce – Colorado Fresh – Rocky Ford Cantaloupe” or a gray, yellow and green sticker, reading “Jensen Farms – Sweet Rocky Fords.” No other farms have been identified as supplying infected fruits or vegetables. If you have cantaloupes with these labels, do not eat them and discard the melons after securing them in a plastic bag, so animals and others do not eat the fruit.
Listeriosis is caused by the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes and it can cause blood stream infection, meningitis or encephalitis, and fetal infection, resulting in miscarriage, still birth, and death of the fetus. It can be transmitted through a variety of foods including unpasteurized soft cheeses, hot dogs, deli meats, and now, cantaloupes. The illness can begin with diarrhea and other gastrointestinal complaints, followed by flu-like symptoms. Febrile gastroenteritis is a common presentation of listeriosis. Gastroenteritis typically spontaneously resolves within about 2 days. The elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for developing invasive infection, and involvement of meninges and brain is particularly common in these situations. Treatment with antibiotics is very effective, but the infection needs to be considered so that proper therapy can be given.
CDC recommends the following to avoid infection with Listeria and other food borne pathogens:
- Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating. Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting it up. This will help to prevent surface bacteria from following the knife through the melon.
- Thoroughly cook raw meat and poultry.
- Wash off countertops after they have contact with raw meat, poultry and other foods
- Heat hot dogs, deli meats, and cold cuts until they are steaming hot just before serving.
- Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk and do not eat fresh soft cheeses that have unpasteurized milk in them, especially Mexican-style cheeses like queso fresco.
- Be sure that your refrigerator is at or below 40 degrees F and your freezer is at or below 0 degrees F by using a refrigerator thermometer.
We will provide updates as needed as this outbreak unfolds and is eventually contained.
Posted by DrSugar on 09/30/2011 at 10:15 AM