The Food and Drug Administration has issued a recall for cantaloupes from a Colorado farm after investigators probing a deadly Listeria outbreak found a contaminated melon in a store, the first time the bacteria has been linked to cantaloupe in the U.S.
The cantaloupes were shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10 and distributed in 17 states, including Illinois.
Jensen Farms spokeswoman Amy Philpott said Thursday one of the farm's Rocky Ford cantaloupes tested positive for the bacteria, but more tests are needed to determine if it's the same strain linked to the outbreak.
Philpott said the company shipped more than 300,000 cases across the country during the period covered by the recall, but the company has recalled the entire harvest as a precaution.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention said one person died in Colorado and one in New Mexico. New Mexico has blamed three deaths on the outbreak, but epidemiologist Chad Smelser said Thursday that one death has been confirmed and the other two are pending results from the CDC.
The agency said it was the first Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe in the United States.
Cantaloupe is often a culprit in foodborne illness outbreaks, but not listeriosis. Earlier this year, state and federal authorities linked 22 salmonella illnesses, many of them in the West, to cantaloupes imported from Mexico.
Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, confusion and convulsions.