18 Deaths, 100 Cases in Listeria/Cantaloupe Outbreak
20 States Now Report Cases as Outbreak Toll Rises
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How to Avoid Listeria
The CDC has issued this advice:
- People at high risk for listeriosis, including older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, should not eat cantaloupes marketed as coming from the Rocky Ford region of Colorado.
- People who have cantaloupes in their homes can check the label or inquire at the store where they purchased it to determine if the fruit was marketed as coming from the Rocky Ford region of Colorado.
- Listeriosis primarily affects older adults, people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and newborns. People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated cantaloupes should consult their doctor immediately.
- Cantaloupes marketed as coming from the Rocky Ford region should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating them.
As other foods besides cantaloupes can carry listeria, the CDC recommends these general steps to avoid listeriosis:
- Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating. Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting them up.
- Thoroughly cook raw meat and poultry.
- Heat hot dogs, deli meats, and cold cuts until they are steaming hot just before serving.
- Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk and do not eat fresh soft cheeses that have unpasteurized milk in them, especially Mexican-style cheeses like queso fresco.
- Be sure that your refrigerator is at or below 40 degrees F and your freezer is at or below 0 degrees F by using a refrigerator thermometer.
For more information, see WebMD's listeria FAQ.
What's it like to have listeriosis? See WebMD's account of a recent listeriosis case history.