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Listeria Precautions


Listeria-infected cantaloupes were recently blamed for more than 133 people falling ill across 26 states. Twenty-eight deaths and one miscarriage were also attributed to the infected fruit. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the infected cantaloupes originated at Jensen Farms in Colorado, and were marketed under the Rocky-Ford brand, which has since been recalled. However, cantaloupes not from Jensen Farms were deemed safe to eat.

Listeria infection is a food-borne illness caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes. Most would be surprised to learn that this bad bug is actually very widespread. It’s usually carried by livestock, and it can be found in soil and water. Surprisingly, the bacterium can also be found—without any signs of infection—in the bowels of about 10 percent of the human population. An estimated 2,500 listeria infections are diagnosed annually, and about 500 people die each year from it, usually those already weakened by illnesses. Older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and anyone with an impaired immune system (i.e., those with diabetes, on chemotherapy, those with AIDS) are at greatest risk.

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