Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

How many Listeria Illnesses and Deaths are Jensen Farms and Frontera Cantaloupe responsible for? As many as 45 Illnesses with 7 Deaths?

ucm271885.jpgWe know that Jensen Farms and Frontera Cantaloupe were shipped to Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

And, as of last week the CDC reported the number of infected persons identified in each state at 22 with 2 deaths as follows: Colorado (12), Indiana (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (4), Oklahoma (1), Texas (2), and West Virginia (1). Two deaths have been reported, one in Colorado and one in New Mexico.

However, individual State Health Departments and local media tell another story of as many as 45 illnesses with 7 deaths:

Oklahoma – 12 ill with 1 death

New Mexico – 11 ill with 4 deaths

Nebraska – 3 ill

Colorado – 12 ill with 1 death

Texas – 2 ill

Missouri – 2 ill with 1 death

Wyoming – 1 ill

Indiana – 1 ill

West Virginia – 1 ill

Counting illnesses and deaths in an ongoing outbreak is not as easy as I try to make it. In fact, it is hard – very hard. People sick with Listeria may not recall all they ate or what brand of cantaloupe they consumed. For those that died, well, hard to ask key questions.

  • What makes it more difficult to attribute food-borne illness cases for Listeria to a source is that the incubation period from when you consumed the food to when you have symptoms can be up to eighty days. Remembering all the food items you have eaten in the last eighty days is almost impossible.