cantaloupe11.jpgThe New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) has identified nine cases of Listeria infection throughout the state with three of these cases resulting in death. Colorado has also had a significant increase in cases of Listeria. Their preliminary results have identified cantaloupe as the likely source of the Listeria outbreak. All 11 of Colorado’s confirmed cases consumed cantaloupe. In New Mexico, all 9 patients had consumed cantaloupe. Other states have also identified Listeria cases that are likely linked to this outbreak. New Mexico’s cases are pending molecular fingerprinting laboratory tests at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see if they are part of the same outbreak.

All of the ill people in New Mexico have been hospitalized, including the three fatalities. The fatal cases were: a 93-year-old man from Bernalillo County, a 61-year-old female from Curry County, and a 63-year-old man from Bernalillo County. The other hospitalized cases in New Mexico come from Bernalillo, Chaves, Otero, De Baca, and Lea counties. The ill people range in age from the 43 to 96 and include 4 men and 5 women. Illness onset ranges from August 20th to early September.

CDC is coordinating the multistate investigation with affected states, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service. DOH is working on the investigation with local public health partners and the New Mexico Environment Department’s Environmental Health Bureau, which has already begun investigating possible sources of the outbreak. Field inspectors have already begun to visit distributors around the state to take samples for further analysis. No recalls have been issued at this time.

UPDATE – A total of 15 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 4 states. All illnesses started on or after August 15, 2011. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: Colorado (11), Nebraska (1), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (2).