Listeria Outbreak in Colorado

Federal and state agriculture officials have recalled cantaloupe from a Colorado farm following the discovery of the listeria bacterium. Jensen Farms, located in Holly, Colorado, issued a recall following an outbreak of listeria that sickened over 22 people, killing at least three so far. Other Colorado cantaloupe farms are testing their produce in order to make sure it is not similarly tainted.

Listeria is a bacteria commonly found in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, and sometimes food. While rare, ingestion of listeria can lead to an illness known as listeriosis. Commonly found in newborns, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems, listeriosis can be fatal. The most common symptoms are fever, muscle ache, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhea. The infection can also spread to the nervous system, causing meningitis, a deadly swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Colorado hospitals discovered the listeria outbreak after treating several patients and determining that the common factor between them was cantaloupe, later narrowed to cantaloupe from the Rocky Ford area. Federal officials discovered listeria contamination in Jensen Farm melons, and are still testing to determine if their produce was the original source of the initial outbreak.

At least one couple sickened is suing Jensen Farms. Tammy and Charles Palmer consumed tainted melons from Jensen Farms. Charles Palmer was sickened and rushed to the hospital where he remains in critical condition.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer