The CDC has reported a total of 72 persons infected with the four outbreak-associated strains (genetic patterns) of Listeria monocytogenes from 18 states. Those numbers will likely increase as more ill and dead are counted. In addition, the incidence of listeriosis in pregnancy is 12 per 100000, compared with a rate of 0.7 per 100000 in the general population. To date, it is unclear if the CDC numbers are counting miscarriages. Also, it is unclear what the estimated numbers of ill are. Generally, it is two to three times the actual counted.
All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011 and continue through min-September. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: California (1), Colorado (15), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (10), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (8), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).
Ages range from 35 to 96 years, with a median age of 78 years old. Most ill persons are over 60 years old or have health conditions that weaken the immune system. Fifty-eight percent of ill persons are female. Among the 67 ill persons with available information on whether they were hospitalized, 66 (99%) were hospitalized.
Thirteen deaths have been reported: 2 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas.
The Cantaloupes where grown and processed by Jensen Farms and distributed by Frontera and shipped from July 29 through Sept 10 to at least 25 states with possible further distribution. The known states are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Laboratory testing by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified Listeria monocytogenes bacteria on cantaloupes collected from grocery stores and from an ill person’s home. Product traceback information from Colorado state officials indicated these cantaloupes also came from Jensen Farms. Laboratory testing by FDA has identified L. monocytogenes matching outbreak strains in samples from equipment and cantaloupe at the Jensen Farms’ packing facility in Granada, Colorado.
And, for the argument that the sick and dead should have washed away the listeria, the FDA advises consumers not to eat the recalled cantaloupes and to throw them away. In Fact, the FDA says:
Do not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the cantaloupe. Cutting, slicing and dicing may also transfer harmful bacteria from the fruit’s surface to the fruit’s flesh.
What a mess.