We don't hear too much about a bacteria called Listeria but when we do, it's usually big news because thousands can become infected and some can die -- even if the bacteria is contained on just one farm. Technically called Listeria monocytogenes, this bacteria can be found in soil so fruits and vegetables are often the foods that become contaminated.
However, animals can also carry Listeria, thus the spread of the bacteria can be in meats and dairy products, especially foods that are undercooked, raw, unwashed or unpasteurized.
As with many bacterial infections, people with compromised or weakened immune systems are most at risk. The very young and old, pregnant women or people already ill with other conditions (particularly those with AIDS, cancer or diabetes) are more susceptible than stronger people already in good health.
According to EmpowHER's Listeria page:
an estimated 2,500 persons become seriously ill with listeriosis each year. Of these, 500 die. At increased risk are:
■ Pregnant women - about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis (About one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy)
■ Newborns - suffer the serious effects of infection in pregnancy
■ Persons with weakened immune systems
■ Persons with cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease
■ Persons with AIDS - almost 300 times more likely to get listeriosis than people with normal immune systems
■ Persons who take glucocorticosteroid medications
■ The elderly
Right now, contaminated cantaloupe is the culprit for an outbreak of Listeria in America. The cantaloupe was grown on land owned by Jensen Farms' fields in Granada, Colorado. These cantaloupes were transported to many states, from California to Florida to Illinois.
A CNN report stated that labels with "Product of USA-Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe, or a gray, yellow, and green sticker that says: Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords" on them should not be eaten. Jensen Farms also exports their cantaloupe and while not naming where, they said they have notified every country of the possibility of contamination.