While a number of listeria-infected cantaloupe crops were recalled last week, food-borne illnesses and deaths grew to 35 and four respectively, in 10 states, federal officials said Monday.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week that the death toll reached two after eating cantaloupe that reportedly carries listeria, or listeriosis, a rare yet serious illness caused by eating contaminated food.
But, health officials said Monday two more people had died in New Mexico, while one person died in Colorado and another in Oklahoma, putting the overall toll at four.
Federal officials say the infected cantaloupe is grown at Jensen Farms Inc of Holly, Colorado, 200 miles southeast of Denver.
Last Wednesday, fatal cases in New Mexico included a 93-year-old man, a 61-year-old woman, and a 63-year-old man.
CDC officials say deaths could rise to six if the CDC confirms two more deaths from cantaloupe shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10 to at least 17 states, which were reported in New Mexico by the state's Department of Health.
A total of 35 people in 10 states have been infected since August 4, the CDC said on its website, an increase from the 22 illnesses the agency cited last week.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that it found listeria monocytogenes on samples taken from equipment and cantaloupe at Jensen Farms' packing facility and in samples of its Rocky Ford brand cantaloupe taken from a Denver-area store.
Jensen Farms, after being linked to the outbreak, recalled its Rocky Ford cantaloupes on Sept. 14 in response to the listeria outbreak.
Listeria infection can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, people over the age of 60 and those with compromised immune systems, health officials said.
Symptoms of the infection include fever and muscle aches, diarrhea, headaches, stiff neck and confusion, according to the CDC. Antibiotics are effective in treating the infection in most cases.