Sheridan County Listeria Death Linked to Cantaloupe Outbreak

North American Cantaloupe. (USDA photo)
North American Cantaloupe. (USDA photo)

(Updated) -- The Wyoming Department of Health confirmed Tuesday that Listeria that killed a Sheridan County woman last week was linked to the Colorado cantaloupe outbreak.

We reported earlier this week that the woman's death was being investigated in connection with the outbreak, as she was known to have died from the bacteria infection, and until yesterday the Department of Health did not know if it was caused by the Colorado-grown fruit.

The woman was more susceptible to the bacteria, says Dept. of Health Spokeswoman Kim Deti, because she had an underlying health condition.

The Sheridan-area death is the first in Wyoming linked to the nationwide outbreak that has now claimed 16 lives and sickened many more.

There have been two other illnesses linked to the outbreak in the state, both in Laramie county. Deti added that the disease does in some cases take some time to reveal symptoms.

Symptoms of Listerosis include fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, diarrhea, headaches, convulsions, and confusion.

Sheridan County Public Health Nurse Educator Toby Granger reiterated Deti's caution.

"If you don't know the exact origin of the fruit, avoid eating it," Granger said. "It's not worth the risk."

The fruit, from Jensen Farms of Granada, Colorado, was recalled last Friday. Listeria is a rare bacteria, Deti added, that is more commonly found in soft cheeses and processed meats.

Regardless, the bacteria can be potentially dangerous and even deadly. Deti said pregnant women should be especially careful because the bacteria can cause stillbirth, and serious illness or death in newborns.

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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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