Twenty-nine confirmed illnesses – including 3 deaths.
Twenty-two suspect illnesses – including 4 deaths.
Twelve states reporting at least one suspicious illness.
Fifty-one confirmed or suspected Listeria monocytogenes so far.

And the outbreak is far from over.

As of this evening, at least eleven states are reporting confirmed or suspected cases of Listeria monocytogenes that are part of this outbreak – including, sadly, a total of 7 deaths. The states reporting possible cases are:

  • Colorado – 12 confirmed cases; 1 death
  • Kansas – 6 suspect cases
  • Illinois – at least 1 suspect case in Cook County (IDPH web site doesn’t say how many)
  • Indiana – 1 confirmed
  • Missouri – 2 suspect, with 1 death
  • Montana – 1 confirmed, 1 suspect
  • Nebraska – 1 confirmed, 2 suspect
  • New Mexico – 5 confirmed, with 1 death; an additional 5 suspect, with 3 deaths
  • Oklahoma – 6 confirmed, with 1 death; an additional 4 suspect
  • Texas – 2 confirmed
  • West Virginia – 1 confirmed
  • Wyoming – 1 suspect

The majority of the outbreak victims are more than 60 years old – many of them over 80 years old. As far as is known, all of the confirmed case patients were hospitalized.

This outbreak has been traced unequivocally to whole cantaloupes from a single grower – Jensen Farms, Inc., located in Holly, Colorado. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, ten cantaloupe samples identified as being from Jensen all tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes; several samples matched the outbreak strain recovered from Colorado’s 12 confirmed case patients.

On September 14th, Jensen Farms recalled the implicated cantaloupes. A complete list of retailers that were supplied with these cantaloupes has not been released either by Jensen or by FDA. For a partial retail distribution list, please check the latest eFoodAlert update.

Serious cases of Listeria monocytogenes illness typically have a long incubation period – three weeks or more. Even if all of the contaminatied cantaloupes have now been removed from circulation and discarded, additional illnesses likely will be reported in coming weeks.

Please check your refrigerator for any cantaloupe that may be part of the recall and discard it in a sealed bag. Listeria monocytogenes infections are especially dangerous for the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with a compromised immune system. If you, a family member, or a friend begin to experience the following symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes (as described by CDC), seek immediate medical attention:

A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has “invasive” infection, in which the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms vary with the infected person:

Pregnant women: Pregnant women 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.

Persons other than pregnant women: Symptoms, in addition to fever and muscle aches, can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.