Cantaloupe outbreak: deadliest in years


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Health officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, are linked to the tainted fruit.

Officials say they are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

The CDC said Tuesday that they have confirmed two deaths in Texas and one death each in in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Last week the CDC reported two deaths in Colorado, four deaths in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and one in Maryland.

Listeria is more deadly than well-known pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli, though those outbreaks generally cause many more illnesses.

Listeria generally only sickens the elderly, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems. The CDC said the median age of those sickened is 78 and that one in five who contract the disease can die.

The outbreak has been traced to Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo., which recalled the tainted cantaloupes earlier this month.

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