Press Release

September 19, 2011


Public Health Alert Update
Illinoisan infected in Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Rocky Ford Cantaloupes

35 Persons Affected in 10 States 

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – A total of 35 people in 10 states have been infected in the multistate outbreak of listeriosis linked to Rocky Ford Cantaloupes shipped by Jensen Farms in Colorado, including a suburban Cook County woman, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed.

IDPH along with local health departments in Illinois has been collaborating with CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the multistate outbreak of listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The FDA also reported the Rocky Ford Cantaloupes—voluntarily recalled by Jensen Farms on September 14—were distributed in at least 17 states, including Illinois. Both the FDA and CDC have recommended that consumers not eat Rocky Ford Cantaloupes from Jensen Farms.

The 82-year-old Illinois woman became ill on September 7th after she reported that she ate a cantaloupe from a store where the recalled cantaloupes were sold. She was subsequently hospitalized.

The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows:  Colorado (12), Oklahoma (6), New Mexico (5), Nebraska (4), Texas (3), Illinois (1), Indiana (1) Nebraska (1), Montana (1) and West Virginia (1). The infected patients range in age from 38 to 96 years old, with a median age of 81. Most are over 60 years old or have health conditions that weaken the immune system. Twenty-eight ill persons were hospitalized, and four deaths have been reported.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of Listeria infection vary with the infected person:

  • Persons other than pregnant women: Symptoms, in addition to fever and muscle aches, can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Some persons may have symptoms of fever, watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, and pains in joints and muscles.
  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women may develop fever, chills, and back pain, but typically experience only a mild, flu-like illness.  However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.


IDPH is reminding people to follow all food safety recommendations to avoid potential illness, as contaminated cantaloupes may still be in grocery stores and in consumers' homes.

  • Persons at high risk for listeriosis, including older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, should not eat Rocky Ford Cantaloupes marketed as coming from Jensen Farms of Colorado.

  • Consumers who have Rocky Ford Cantaloupes in their homes can check the label or inquire at the store where they purchased it to determine if the fruit was marketed as coming from Jensen Farms of Colorado.

  • Persons who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated cantaloupes should consult their doctor immediately.

  • Rocky Ford Cantaloupes marketed as coming from Jensen Farms should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating them.

General Melon Safety Advice:

  • Consumers and food preparers should wash their hands before and after handling any whole melon, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew.

  • Wash the melons and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting.

  • Cut melon should be promptly consumed or refrigerated at or less than 40 degrees F (32-34 degrees F is optimal for storage of cut melon).

  • Cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours should be discarded.

More information about Listeriosis and recommendations to reduce risk of getting Listeriosis from food can be found at the CDC's Listeriosis webpage .

More information about FDA Safety Recalls:

More general information about listeriosis can also be found at the IDPH website:

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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