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CDC reports increased death toll from Listeria

People have the right to expect that the products they purchase are free from harmful defects. This right applies to all consumer products from power tools to food. However, it appears that nearly two dozen people across the country have died because of a defective product that was available in the produce section of their local grocery stores.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed two more deaths related to Listeria-infected cantaloupes, making this one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history.

Listeria is a serious bacterial infection that can be acquired by eating contaminated food. In this recent outbreak, investigators believe that Listeria has been transmitted by tainted cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado. Although the outbreak is believed to have originated in Colorado, Listeria deaths have been reported in 12 states, including Maryland.

Safety regulators believe that a product recall has been effective in getting the tainted cantaloupes off grocery store shelves, leaving many to wonder why the death total from the Listeria outbreak continues to rise. However, symptoms of listeriosis, the disease caused by a Listeria infection, can take as long as two months to appear in victims.

The CDC now states that 23 people have died from listeriosis, and many more people across the country have fallen ill because of the disease.

Although many healthy adults can safely consumed Listeria without falling ill, Listeria is considered to be more deadly than salmonella and E. coli. Elderly people, people who have weakened immune systems and unborn children are especially vulnerable to listeriosis.

Source: CBS News, "Listeria death toll now at 23, making outbreak deadliest in 25 years," Ryan Jaslow, Oct. 13, 2011

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