Killer cantaloupes continue to take lives

United States, Miami : In this photo illustration a cantaloupe is seen sliced open on September 29, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (AFP Photo / Joe Raedle)
The bodycount caused by a bacteria outbreak in American cantaloupes has reached 25 people as the illnesses brought on by a listeria epidemic continues to claim more lives months after it was first reported.

In a statement this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they have confirmed the listeria outbreak to now be responsible for 123 cases of sickness and 25 casualties, making it the deadliest wave of damage caused by a food-borne illness in America in more than a quarter of a century.

As RT reported last month, at least 16 Americans died from complications caused by the listeria outbreak in the first two months that doctors became aware of the plague. Contaminated cantaloupes out of Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado are being blamed for the epidemic which shows no signs of subsiding anytime soon. Jensen Farms was forced to recall more than 310,000 cases of melons that were shipped out over a six-week period once word got out of the outbreak, though new cases are continuing to arise.

Now the CDC believes that recent bouts with listeria sickness have arisen from cantaloupe that was consumed as recently as September 24. With symptoms taking as long as two months to first become noticeable, now doctors expect incidents to be reported through December.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration said that they believe unsanitary conditions at the Colorado farm to have been the cause for the outbreak. After analyzing tests conducted at Jensen Farms, the FDA writes now that "widespread contamination throughout your facility and indicates poor sanitary practices in the facility."

According to the letter, samples taken from different locations throughout the facility tested positive for listeria, “all of which were either food contact surfaces or areas adjacent to food contact surfaces," says the FDA.

The outbreak has caused infections in 26 states across the US and in addition to the 25 deaths, is believed to be responsible for a miscarriage suffered by a pregnant victim. Expecting mothers and the elderly are among those most susceptible to the sickness, which has mostly taken the lives of geriatric Americans so far.

Common symptoms associated with listeria include fever and muscle aches, as well as other gastrointestinal symptoms. Meningitis and cervical infections are also known symptoms, the latter of which has been known to cause cases of stillbirth.

Ray Gilmer of United Fresh Produce Association tells the Daily Mail that the tarnished reputation befallen on Jensen Farms could likely destroy the entire company.