An investigation into a listeria outbreak that has killed at least one person has expanded to four states.
The Colorado health department said cantaloupe from the famed Rocky Ford area is the likely culprit and cautioned consumers to avoid the fruit.
Trace-back investigations suggest the cantaloupes are from southeastern Colorado’s Rocky Ford region, which are harvested in August and September and distributed widely to grocery stores, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
“While the investigation into the source of the listeria outbreak is continuing, it is prudent for people who are at high risk for listeria infection to avoid consumption of cantaloupe,” Chris Urbina, chief medical officer for the department said in a written statement. Urbina added that officials haven’t yet traced where the tainted melons were sold.
The CDC said that 15 cases of a strain of Listeria were reported from four states, including 11 from Colorado, two from Texas, and one each from Nebraska and Oklahoma. Suspected cases were being investigated in other states.
The agency said it was the first Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe in the United States.
Listeriosis often results in fatal meningitis or encephalitis.
Listeria symptoms are flu-like and can be hard to diagnose without a blood test. It usually begins with diarrhea or other intestinal symptoms. Patients soon develop fever and muscle aches.