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Cantaloupe- the Killer Fruit?

Photo Credit: Cantaloupe by Kabsik Park

On September 30, 2011, cantaloupe has killed fourteen people and sickened seventy-six people in eighteen states.  The cause of this is listeria in Cantaloupe.

Listeria is the deadly bacteria, which can replicate inside a human cell once it penetrates the cell.  Listeria symptoms are usually unnoticeable and they only last a week and then it is spontaneously resolved. If listeria replicates and spreads to the brain, it can cause meningitis, alter mental condition, cause seizures, and death.

In Colorado, the FDA and state health authorities are working together to figure out how the cantaloupes were contaminated. They are wondering whether or not the cantaloupe had been infected with the bacteria through contaminated irrigation waters. There has been a drought in Colorado, therefore the farmers have been accessing water from all sorts of places such as animal vectors.

Cantaloupes are one of the only fruit than can cause an outbreak. Melon’s rough skin allows it to trap bacteria. The exterior of the cantaloupe provides a great site for the bacterias to attach. Once attached it can multiply and then penetrate the skin leaving someone with an infected cantaloupe.  Cantaloupes can be contaminated with the bacteria anytime during its contact with the ground, but the most likely time of contamination is during its harvesting. Animals are attracted to the ripe melons and can spread bacteria through the irrigation water.

Deaths are still accumulating and as of Wednesday, October 12 there have been 23 deaths and 116 sicknesses. Countless cantaloupe farmers have lost their jobs because of the cantaloupe retraction. Will you chance your life by eating a cantaloupe? Seriously don’t eat them…it can kill you.


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  1. buddhabear28

    I agree with grexthebiodino in that it’s really unfortunate for the Jensen Farmers to have to go through this hardship. Though it is hard to determine when the deadliest outbreak of a food borne disease was, I think it’s important to note that listeria isn’t the only threat. Another bacteria that comes to mind when I think of food is salmonella, which can infect anything from dairy products to meat. Be careful what you eat everyone, because cantaloupe isn’t the only killer fruit.

  2. lp719

    This article really interested me because cantaloupe is one of my favorite fruits, and I had no idea that such deadly bacteria could be trapped in it! I didn’t even know what Listeria was until I read this post. Learning about it made me want to learn more about Listeria and the foods in can be found in. I found an article that discusses that Listeria was also found in lettuce only a month ago! Reading these articles will definitely make me think twice before I eat cantaloupe or lettuce.

  3. lagis2012

    Its interesting, because as I read this, I thought of other outbreaks dealing with food. Remember all of those E. Coli outbreaks? Everyone was scared to eat.
    I don’t remember when the last major outbreak was, but I do remember these smaller outbreaks.

  4. grexthebiodino

    I feel so bad for the farmers! This ABC News article gives more insight on the farm (Jensen Farms) that the listeria outbreak is connected to. Poor guys, they’re being sued. Also, the article says this is the “deadliest outbreak of a food borne disease” in about a decade… does anyone know what the last outbreak was??

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