Friday, 23 March, 2018

Aussies die after eating contaminated melon

Rockmelon is to blame for a national outbreak of listeria Rockmelon listeria outbreak kills Victorian
Melissa Porter | 05 March, 2018, 04:44

A listeria outbreak caused by contaminated cantaloupe melon has killed three in Australia. The health centre concerned should be visited if such symptoms appear.

Three people have died in Australia after eating melon contaminated with listeria bacteria.

Health authorities in New South Wales state confirmed the death of two people from the outbreak this week, with authorities in Victoria confirming the third.

All 15 victims were elderly citizens, NSW Health said late on Friday.

The suspect cantaloupes were found to have been farmed at Cicerone in the eastern state of New South Wales.

They include four Victorians and one Tasmanian.

Listeria can be extremely serious and even life-threatening for people over the age of 70, pregnant women, and anyone suffering from diabetes, cancer or weakened immune systems. Its cases usually involve unpasteurised milk or dairy products, such as camembert and brie.

"People vulnerable to listeriosis should discard any rockmelon [cantaloupe] purchased before 1 March", she said in a statement, adding that all the known cases were "elderly people, and a lot of them have significant underlying health conditions".

NSW Health has defended its contaminated-food reporting process after it was revealed the investigation into rockmelons which contained fatal listeria began in January.

"People vulnerable to listeriosis should discard any rockmelon purchased before 1 March", Sheppeard said.

Ms Dianne Overfull, industry development manager for the Australian Melon Association, told Reuters by text message that the grower had issued a trade level recall, meaning that its produce should not be on sale anywhere, either inside or outside the country.

The contamination has been traced to a farm near the city of Griffith in New South Wales.

Listeriosis starts with flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea - and it can take up to six weeks for symptoms to appear.