Listeria Outbreak Spreads to Nebraska

By: Ashley Harding

Four people in the United States have died due to an outbreak of listeria found in cantaloupes grown in Colorado. It's now confirmed that four people in Nebraska have also been infected.

This is an infection that doesn't strike very often but when it does, it can be brutal. It all started with some contaminated cantaloupe from a farm based in Colorado. Over the course of about two months, 35 people from at least ten states have been infected with listeria, four of whom are right here in Nebraska.

Listeria is an infectious disease that comes from eating contaminated foods. Doctors say symptoms range from the everyday to the unpleasant, such as a fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. The FDA has since issued a voluntary recall of all cantaloupe from the farm, however, doctors say you still need to be careful and some people are more at risk than others.

The most vulnerable include the elderly, pregnant women and their newborns, and those with weakened immune systems. “They may experience more significant symptoms or problems associated with it and they need to see somebody,” said Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Acierno.

Dr. Acierno says there are some things you can do at home to make sure your food is safe. These include washing all your fruits and vegetables, separating your cutting utensils, and making sure your fridge is stored at 40 degrees or less. Even if you've done everything right with food preparation and cleanliness, there's no harm in asking a lot of questions. “If you don't know where that cantaloupe came from, ask your grocer,” says Dr. Acierno.

One thing to remember when you're preparing food with a rough exterior, be sure to cut the skin off, rinse thoroughly and then wash the board you're cutting on to avoid spreading germs.