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Deaths from tainted cantaloupes rise to 15

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:31 PM EDT, Fri September 30, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Contaminated cantaloupes have caused illnesses in 19 states, the CDC says
  • In addition to the deaths, a total of 84 people have fallen ill, the agency says
  • The fruits are thought to be tainted by listeria monocytogenes bacteria
  • Colorado-based Jensen Farms has recalled its cantaloupes

(CNN) -- Fifteen people have now died after consuming cantaloupe contaminated with the listeria monocytogenes bacteria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

At least 84 people in 19 states have become ill with the bacteria, the agency said. And the number of illnesses could still grow, added the CDC, citing reporting lags and how the disease can develop slowly in some people.

On Tuesday, the CDC was reporting 13 deaths and 72 illnesses in what was already then the deadliest food-borne illness outbreak in the United States since 1998.

Bad cantaloupes kill 13 people

Five people have died in New Mexico from eating the tainted cantaloupes, the CDC said. Three people died in Colorado, two in Texas and one each in Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Illnesses have also been reported in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Listeria victim's wife: It's 'pure hell'

What you need to know about Listeria

Most of those who fell ill are more than 60 years old, the CDC said. Doctors also are closely monitoring the pregnancies of two women who ate contaminated cantaloupe, with the agency noting that listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

Tainted cantaloupes have left 29 people dead in what has become the deadliest U.S. outbreak of a food-borne illness since the CDC started keeping track of listeria cases in 1973, according to the agency. Incidence rates of infection actually decreased 23% in the U.S. between 1996 and 2010 but news of a contaminated food product always creates headlines. Here are the 10 most high-profile food-borne illness outbreaks since 2001. Tainted cantaloupes have left 29 people dead in what has become the deadliest U.S. outbreak of a food-borne illness since the CDC started keeping track of listeria cases in 1973, according to the agency. Incidence rates of infection actually decreased 23% in the U.S. between 1996 and 2010 but news of a contaminated food product always creates headlines. Here are the 10 most high-profile food-borne illness outbreaks since 2001.
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The decade\'s 10 worst food-borne illness outbreaks The decade's 10 worst food-borne illness outbreaks

Older adults and people with compromised immune systems are also especially susceptible.

Public health investigators have traced the source of the bacteria to a farm in Granada, Colorado.

Food Poisoning 101

The grower, Jensen Farms, issued a recall for its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes on September 14. By now, the cantaloupes should all be off store shelves, the CDC said.

The agency warned that people should not eat Rocky Ford cantaloupes, even if they have eaten part of one and have not yet fallen ill. It also said that consumers should be wary of eating any cantaloupes if they don't know where they came from.

How to keep your food safe

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