Outbreak of cantaloupe-related illness linked to 13 deaths

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by Sarah See

At least 13 people died and 72 people were ill Tuesday morning in 18 states from consumption of tainted Colorado cantaloupes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The listeria illnesses were traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms' fields in Granada, Colo., according to CNN.

Listeria is more deadly than well-known pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, primarily affecting older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems, the CDC website said.

Because it can take four weeks or more for a person to fall ill after eating listeria-contaminated food and the symptoms do not always show up right away, the number of death and illnesses will probably grow, Dr. Robert Tauxe of the CDC said.

Jensen Farms, based in Holly, Colo., voluntarily recalled whole, tainted cantaloupes shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10 and looked for ways to enhance their protocol, Ryan Jensen, a partner at Jensen Farms, said.

"Jensen Farms continues to stay committed to the highest levels of food safety and maintains many third-part safety audits, as we have for many years," Jensen said.

This food outbreak was the deadliest in more than a decade, health officials said to the Associated Press.

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