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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2011

Death toll hits 15 from tainted cantaloupes


ATLANTA -- Two more people in the United States have died from eating listeria-tainted cantaloupes, bringing the death toll to 15 in the country's deadliest foodborne outbreak in more than a decade, health officials said Friday.

Listeria monocytogenes is a frequent cause of U.S. food recalls in processed meats and cheeses, but contamination in fresh produce is a new and worrisome development.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the multistate listeria outbreak caused by tainted cantaloupes shipped by Colorado-based Jensen Farms has killed 15 and infected 84 people in 19 states.

Of the 15 deaths, five were in New Mexico, three were in Colorado, two were in Texas, and there was one each in Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

CDC officials said they expected more infections and possibly deaths in the outbreak because listeria has a long incubation period.

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