Oklahoma City, OK – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has now confirmed a total of 11 cases of listeriosis related to cantaloupe shipped by Jensen Farms from the Rocky Ford, CO, growing region. One death has occurred in Oklahoma connected to this outbreak. It is possible that new cases of disease may still occur since the health effects may not appear for as long as 70 days after eating contaminated cantaloupe.
Listeriosis is particularly severe for the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. State officials recommend that all Oklahomans do not eat recalled cantaloupe shipped by Jensen Farms. The recalled cantaloupes were shipped from Jensen Farms from July 29 through September 10 and are linked to a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis. State and county health department sanitarians have been inspecting and working with distributors and retail stores to ensure these cantaloupes have been removed from sale. From information provided by the Food and Drug Administration, it is unclear whether the recalled cantaloupe was distributed, sold, or served as part of precut fresh or frozen products in Oklahoma. Only cantaloupe produced by Jensen Farms has been associated with this outbreak; cantaloupe produced by other sources is safe to eat.
The incubation period for listeriosis averages three weeks, but can be as long as 70 days. The symptoms associated with listeriosis depend on the person infected. Healthy adults and children typically will not develop a serious illness. The symptoms may include fever, chills, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Elderly persons or persons with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe disease due to listeriosis; these persons may develop meningitis and experience sudden fever, intense headache, nausea, vomiting, mental confusion, and coma. Pregnant women may also be more severely affected as listeriosis can cause miscarriage or stillbirth. Persons that have consumed cantaloupe they believe could be contaminated with Listeria and have health concerns should contact their physician. This consultation could be helpful even if symptoms of disease are not apparent. The OSDH has sent guidance developed on this topic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to physicians, including obstetricians, statewide.