Federal health officials report that as many as 16 people have died after eating cantaloupe produced in Colorado, according to KETV Omaha. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute 13 confirmed deaths and 72 illnesses to the tainted cantaloupe, which is contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Officials continue to investigate three other deaths that may be related to cantaloupe consumption.
The deaths, which have been confirmed in Kansas, Texas, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Maryland, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, make this the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in more than 10 years. Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, a serious infection that often affects those with weak immune systems. Pregnant women, elderly adults, newborns and people with weakened immune systems are especially at risk. The bacteria are found in water and soil, which makes it possible for cantaloupe and other produce items to become contaminated.
This type of infection often starts with diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disturbances, followed by muscle aches and fever. Most people diagnosed with listeriosis develop an invasive infection, which means the infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal system. Other possible symptoms include stiff neck, loss of balance, headache, convulsions, and confusion. Pregnant women usually only experience symptoms similar to those caused by a mild flu; however, developing listeriosis during pregnancy may cause miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, and critical infection of the newborn.
Even when you wash your food thoroughly and follow every safety precaution in the kitchen, it’s not always possible to completely prevent listeriosis infection. If you or a loved one developed this serious infection as a result of eating contaminated food, contact the Omaha personal injury attorneys at Cullan & Cullan. Both of our attorneys are also physicians, so we understand how serious listeriosis is and how it can change your life forever. Call us at (402) 397-7600 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.