Public health officials have confirmed a pregnant northwest Iowa woman who suffered a miscarriage became sick after she’d eaten cantaloupe linked to a multistate outbreak of listeriosis. It’s Iowa’s first case of the illness that’s killed 18 people and sickened dozens of others in 20 states.
Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk says the recalled cantaloupes are from Jensen Farms in Colorado.
“We had hoped that perhaps none of the contaminated melons had made it to Iowa, but this indicates we had some get to Iowa and unfortunately, this women did become ill with the exact same strain they’ve associated with these contaminated cantaloupe,” Quinlisk said.
The woman, only identified as being between 18 and 40 years of age, has recovered from the infection. She had eaten cantaloupe purchased at an Iowa store. “We know that pregnant women are much more susceptible to listeriosis than other people and unfortunately, this woman was pregnant and she did suffer a miscarriage,” Quinlisk said.
No other illnesses associated with the outbreak have been reported in Iowa. Jensen Farms issued a recall of its cantaloupes, but Quinlisk says it can take up to two months for a person to develop listeriosis after eating contaminated food. She says it’s important to wash all fruits and vegetables – even if the item has an outer coating that is not eaten.
“The rind on the melon, for example, it’s still very important to wash that thoroughly because when you cut it, the knife can actually bring some of the bacteria on the surface of the fruit in to the inside of the fruit and cause you to become ill,” Quinlisk said.
Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. Quinlisk says pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. Older adults, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems are also in a high risk group.
Find out more info on listeria outbreak here: www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/cantaloupes-jensen-farms/093011/#advice-consumers.