US: Deadly Listeria outbreak from contaminated spanspek

Eight people have died and another 55 people in 14 states have been sickened from a multistate outbreak of Listeria that has been officially linked to cantaloupes (spanspek in SA), sold under the Jensen Farms’ Rocky Ford-brand and which were recalled September 14.

FDA confirmed the presence of Listeria in cantaloupes and environmental samples from a Denver-area store and from the Jensen Farms packing facility in Granada, Colorado, after state health officials identified Jensen Farms’ Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes as the common food eaten by several listeriosis patients.

The FDA confirmed the Listeria found in the samples matches one of the three different strains of Listeria associated with the multistate outbreak.

Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark filed a lawsuit against Jensen Farms and Wal-Mart in El Paso County District Court on behalf of Charles and Tammy Palmer. Charles Palmer remains hospitalized after eating Listeria-tainted cantaloupe from Jensen Farms that he purchased at Wal-Mart.

The death Tuesday of the fifth victim of the cantaloupe-caused Listeria outbreak has been confirmed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She was Shelly Occhipinti-Krout, 48, of Parker, CO, died at Parker Adventist Hospital Tuesday morning, three weeks after being infected with Listeria from eating cantaloupe.

Most of the people infected have required hospitalization, and tests are pending to determine if several more listeriosis-caused deaths are connected to the outbreak. The latest victim in Colorado was a relatively young woman, which is unusual because Listeria is more likely to claim the lives of the elderly.

That was evident three years ago when Canada experienced a multi-province Listeria outbreak caused by deli meats from a Maple Leaf Foods processing plant in Toronto. Before the outbreak ran its course, there were 23 deaths among the 57 confirmed illnesses, a fatality rate of 40 percent. Those who died ranged in age from 29 to 98. The victims’ mean age was 75, and the median age was 78.

Everyone who died had underlying health problems, and 84 percent were living in some kind of senior or institutionalized housing.

A similar profile may be emerging from the multistate Listeria outbreak caused by contaminated cantaloupe. Those infected range in age from 35 to 96, with a median age of 81. Most are over 60 and have health conditions that weaken the immune system, according to the CDC…..

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