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Cantaloupes in a field on Jensen Farms, Colorado. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
Listeria

Death toll from US listeria outbreak rises to 18

The deadly outbreak has been liked to cantaloupe grown on a farm in Colorado.

US GOVERNMENT officials confirmed today that 18 people have died as a result of a multi-state outbreak of listeria.

The deaths were reported in Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also said that as of yesterday, 100 people remain ill as a result of the outbreak. The infection is generally transmitted through contaminated food and the bacteria can be destroyed by cooking.

US consumers are being reminded not to Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado, which has been linked to the outbreak. “This is especially important for older adults, persons with weakened immune systems and pregnant women,” the CDC said in a statement today.

The farm issued a voluntary recall of the cantaloupes in the middle of last month.

The organisation says that up to two months can pass between the consumption of contaminated food and the development of listeriosis.

According to the World Health Organisation, the symptoms “include fever, muscle aches and sometimes nausea or diarrhoea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions may occur.”

The outbreak is the worst food outbreak to strike the US in over a decade. Nine people died in a salmonella outbreak linked to peanuts almost three years ago, and 21 died from a listeria outbreak in 1998 which was traced to hot dogs.

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