According to Australian press reports, two of the six who became ill in NSW subsequently died.
All states and territories are working together to investigate the outbreak and to date they have identified ten cases in elderly patients in NSW (six), Victoria (one) and Queensland (three) with onset of illness notification dates between 17 January and 9 February 2018. All 10 cases consumed rockmelon prior to their illness.
The outbreak has been linked to a grower (yet unnamed) in Nericon NSW. The company voluntarily ceased production on Friday 23 February 2018, shortly after being notified of a potential link to illness and is working proactively with the Authority to further investigate how any contamination could have occurred in order to get back into production as soon as possible.
The NSW Food Authority is advising consumers who are most vulnerable to Listeria infection such as older persons, and people who have weakened immune systems due to illness or pregnancy, to avoid eating rockmelon after a recent spike in listeriosis cases in elderly people has been linked to the fruit.
As a precaution, consumers particularly those who are elderly, pregnant or immune compromised who may have rockmelon already in their home are advised to discard it.
Listeria is found widely in the environment and rarely causes serious illness in the general population but for vulnerable people, such as those who are over 70, pregnant, or have diabetes, cancer or suppressed immune systems, it can be extremely serious or even life threatening.
Listeriosis starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhea. The symptoms can take a few days or even up to six weeks to appear after eating contaminated produce.
People at risk should consult their local doctor as early as possible should symptoms appear.
Sounds much like the beginning of the US 2011 Multistate Outbreak of Listeria Linked to Whole Cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, Colorado. A total of 146 persons infected with any of the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes were reported to CDC from 28 states. Thirty deaths were reported. In addition, one woman pregnant at the time of illness had a miscarriage.