Today it was announced that health officials in Kansas are investigating whether there is a connection between 8 people who have become ill from listeria since August 26, and the nationwide listeria outbreak from Jensen Farms cantalope. 2 of the 8 sick in Kansas have died.
The Jensen Farms cantaloupe outbreak has so far sickened a total of 55 persons infected with the 4 outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes from 14 states. All illnesses started on or after August 4, 2011. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: California (1), Colorado (14), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Maryland (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (4), New Mexico (10), Oklahoma (8), Texas (9), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).
A person with listeriosis may develop fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea (CDC website, 2009). If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. In immune-deficient individuals, Listeria can invade the central nervous system, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). Infected pregnant women ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth.