June 17, 2024

CDC Adds Three More Deaths to 2011 Jensen Farms Listeria Cantaloupe Toll

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has raised the official death toll of last year’s Jensen Farms cantaloupe Listeria monocytogenes outbreak from 30 to 33. A total of 147 people in 28 states were part of the outbreak. In addition, seven pregnant women were sickened in this outbreak. One suffered a miscarriage, and three infants were born with listeriosis.

After the government issued its final update on December 8, 2011, a fifth outbreak-associated subtype of Listeria monocytogenes was found on a cantaloupe that was in a patient’s home. A search of PulseNet database identified the same subtype on a cantaloupe collected during the investigation. That subtype matches the bacteria isolated from one patient who had not been included in the outbreak total.

Cantaloupe presents a unique bacteria challenge. Its rough and webbed skin provides an ideal hiding place for bacteria. Washing will not remove all of the bacteria. Then, when the fruit is sliced, bacteria travel from the skin on the knife to the flesh.

Ten other deaths not attributed to listeriosis occurred among patients who were infected with an outbreak strain. State and local public health officials looked at those cases to determined whether or not to attribute the deaths to the cantaloupe outbreak or to another, underlying cause.

The total number of cases were distributed among these states: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), California (4), Colorado (40), Idaho (2), Illinois (4), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (11), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (7), Montana (2), Nebraska (6), Nevada (1), New Mexico (15), New York (2), North Dakota (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (18), Utah (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (4). Most ill persons were over the age of 60, and 58% of the patients were female.

Anyone who wants to file a claim against Jensen Farms must do so by September 14, 2012. The United States Bankruptcy Court in Colorado approved bankruptcy for the firm and set the date for filing. An FDA investigation found that unsanitary conditions on the farm caused the outbreak.

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