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Dallas County Death From Contaminated Cantaloupe

Penn State (cc) flickr
Listeria under a microscope.

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Dallas County is reporting a death from Listeria - linked to contaminated cantaloupe from Colorado. KERA's BJ Austin reports.

Four Listeria cases have been confirmed in Dallas County and linked to the multi-state investigation of contaminated cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Colorado.

Blanca Cantu, with Dallas County Health and Human Services, says an 89 year old, the fourth documented case of Listeria has died. The others recovered.

Cantu: In our particular cases, the ages of the Dallas County residents who were linked to this investigation were 81, 75, 64 and 89.

Cantu says Listeria can be especially dangerous to the elderly, the very young, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and muscle ache. All four victims had to be hospitalized.

Cantu says Listeria is a naturally occurring bacteria in the soil, and she has this advice.

Cantu: Anytime you pick up a watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe from the grocery store you should rinse it, wash the exterior before you get a knife out and slice into it. Because if the exterior is contaminated when that blade goes down into the melon it can contaminate the inner melon.

Cantu says the bacteria can also grow in the refrigerator, and people who may have purchased a Jensen Farms-Rocky Ford cantaloupe should disinfect refrigerator crisper drawers, shelves and kitchen countertops where the melon was stored.

The Health Department is not investigating any more "potential" cases in Dallas County.

Email BJ Austin