How to know if you have Listeria: Dealing with dangerous melons
Although the infected cantaloupes were recalled on Sept. 14th, it's still too early to ignore the threat ofListeria monocytogenes that has been sweeping the nation.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "the number of illnesses and deaths will probably grow in coming weeks because the symptoms of Listeria don't always show up right away. It can take four weeks or more for a person to fall ill after eating food contaminated with Listeria."
Listeriosis is a form of food poisoning less common, but much more serious, than salmonella and E coli. It is typically found in unpasteurized products (milk and cheese) or uncooked meats.
It can take four weeks or more for a person to fall ill after eating food contaminated with Listeria.
It's unusual for produce to be infected with the bacteria. This is the most serious outbreak of Listeria in decades.
Jensen Farms, a Colorado farm that has grown Rocky Ford cantaloupes since the 1950s, is the source of the culprit cantaloupes. The company shipped just more than 300,000 cases of the dangerous melons between July 29 and Sept. 10 (the recall period), and all remaining cantaloupes have been destroyed.
Listeria, like most bacteria, affects the very old, the very young, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems the most severely.
As of Wednesday, the CDC had recorded more than 72 instances of illness linked to Listeriosis. Fourteen of those were in Texas alone. Two elderly citizens of the Dallas/Fort Worth area who had been infected with the bacteria died this week.
The symptoms of Listeriosis are vague. They can be flu-like (fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea), or similar to the effects of a desk job (headache, stiff neck) or intoxication (confusion, loss of balance, convulsions).
Although it's tempting to panic and self-diagnose, it may be best to call your doctor if you have eaten cantaloupe within the past several weeks and have been experiencing a combination of the above symptoms.
As for eating cantaloupe, I'd say that avoidance is the best policy in this case. Leave those slimy melons out of the fruit salad, please.