At least 13 are already dead in what the CDC has named the deadliest food outbreak in the United States in more than a decade
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that 13 deaths in a number of states are linked to a batch of tainted cantaloupes that originated at Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado. Officials are investigating three other deaths that may be connected, and at least 72 people in 18 states have fallen ill, according to the latest Associated Press report. Even though this is already the deadliest food outbreak the United States has seen in more than a decade, the worst may be yet to come. "[T]he story hasn't even peaked yet," Maryn McKenna, a well-known reporter on disease outbreaks, wrote earlier this evening on her Wired blog, Superbug.
Often carried by animals, listeria bacteria tend to grow in muddy, moist conditions. While the cantaloupe is known for carrying pathogens -- the fruit has been associated with at least 10 outbreaks in the past decade -- listeria poisoning is rare. It's also more deadly than E. coli, salmonella, and other well-known pathogens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is unsure how the cantaloupes picked up listeria, but officials are investigating animals and the water supply at Jensen Farms after tracing the pathogens back.