For Immediate Release
September 22, 2011

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

Kansas Listeriosis Cases Match Ongoing Multistate Outbreak

Topeka—The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE)  and the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) have been notified that the five isolates sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do match the Listeria multistate outbreak. KDHE anticipates the addition of Kansas on the updated CDC report as a state matching the ongoing multistate outbreak.

The CDC reports as of 5 p.m. EDT on Sept. 20 a total of 55 people infected with the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 14 states.  All illnesses started on or after August 4. The number of infected people identified in each state is as follows:  California (1), Colorado (14), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Maryland (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (4), New Mexico (10), Oklahoma (8), Texas (9), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2) and Wyoming (1). These cases are in addition to the Kansas cases.

The CDC recommends consumers and especially persons at high risk for listeriosis, including older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, to not eat cantaloupes marketed from Jensen Farms in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado because of potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause serious illness.

Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms were distributed in Kansas and several other states.  The cantaloupes were grown at Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo., which is located in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado. The cantaloupe may be labeled: Colorado Grown, Distributed by Frontera Produce, USA, Pesticide Free, Jensenfarms.com, Sweet Rocky Fords. Some cantaloupes may also have been unlabeled.  Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of Rocky Ford Cantaloupe on Sept.14.

Kansas has eight cases of listeriosis reported since Aug. 26, with five cases now matching the multistate outbreak. Two of these eight patients have died and the causes of death are being investigated. Typically, Kansas reports fewer than six cases of listeriosis per year.

Listeriosis primarily occurs among older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and newborns.  Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting.  People with these symptoms should consult a physician.  Symptoms typically occur three to 70 days after exposure. 

For additional information regarding this outbreak, visit the CDC multistate foodborne illness outbreak page at http://www.cdc.gov/outbreaknet/outbreaks.html and the FDA recall media release at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm271879.htm