Iowa health officials told reporters Wednesday that a pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage after contracting listeriosis, a rare yet serious food-borne illness that arose in early September.
The miscarriage serves as the state's first case in the recent listeria outbreak linked to tainted cantaloupes.
Roughly 100 people from 20 states have been confirmed as infected with the deadly Listeria monocytogenes bacteria linked to Colorado-grown cantaloupes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
Listeria infection can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women - resulting in a possible miscarriage - people over the age of 60 and those with compromised immune systems, health officials said.
According to the CDC, pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get the bacterial infection, and roughly 17 percent of listeriosis cases occur during pregnancy, ABC News reports.
Pregnant women are much more susceptible to having symptoms and becoming severely ill from listeria, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health told ABC News. Once they have the infection, the complications can be quite serious.
The CDC also reported that two other women were pregnant at the time they were infected and that their pregnancies were being monitored.
On Sept. 12, the CDC first announced that the death toll reached two after a bad cantaloupe was consumed and the outbreak had only spread to three states at the time.
The death toll is currently at 18.
According to CDC, there have been two deaths in Colorado, one in Kansas, one in Maryland, one in Missouri, one in Nebraska, four in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and two in Texas, as of Monday.
The disease-ridden fruit has sickened a number of residents in 20 states to date.
Health officials say they fear that the illness and death count — the highest in a known food outbreak since tainted peanuts were linked to nine deaths almost three years ago — could go even higher.
Jensen Farms, said to be the culprit of the tainted cantaloupes, has recalled Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes shipped from July 29 through Sept. 10 to Illinois, Wyoming, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
The recalled cantaloupe may be labeled “Colorado Grown,” ‘’Distributed by Frontera Produce,” ‘’Jensenfarms.com” or “Sweet Rocky Fords.” Not all of the recalled cantaloupes are labeled with a sticker, the FDA said in a statement.
In mid-September, the agency said that illnesses grew to 55 people in 14 states from eating the contaminated cantaloupes.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that cantaloupes grown on our farm have been linked to the current listeria outbreak. Our hearts go out to those individuals and their families who have been affected by this terrible situation,” said Jensen Farms in a statement last week.
Illnesses have been reported in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The CDC says illnesses in several other states potentially connected to the outbreak are under investigation.
Colorado has the most illnesses with 14 sickened, followed by New Mexico with 10, Texas with nine and Oklahoma with eight, according to the state's health officials.
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.