An outbreak of listeria linked to cantaloupes has killed 13 people in the United States, health officials said.
Symptoms of the infection include fever and muscle aches, diarrhea, headaches, stiff neck and confusion, the Colorado Health Department said. The infection can also cause stillbirths and miscarriages.
Of the 13 deaths, four were in New Mexico, two in Colorado, two in Texas and one each in Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has traced the outbreak to cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms in Granada, Colo., following the finding of listeria monocytogenes in a sample from there.
The Food and Drug Administration has advised consumers to throw out the recalled melons.
It can take more than two months for a person exposed to the bacteria to fall ill, which means that it is often difficult to identify a food that carried the pathogen. Unlike some other bacteria, listeria is also capable of growing well at low temperatures, which can make it difficult to eliminate from refrigerated areas used to process food.
People in the high-risk groups for contracting the infection should avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses, refrigerated smoked seafood and deli meats unless they have been reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The FDA also recommends that consumers rinse all raw produce, including cantaloupes, under running water.