Deaths after eating Listeria melons

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13 people in the US died of listeriosis after eating honeydew melons

In the United States, at least 13 people have died as a result of eating melons contaminated with Listeria bacteria. Almost a hundred people have listeriosis. Especially for small children, the elderly, pregnant women and the chronically ill, the food germs are dangerous to health and can cause serious illnesses.

After an EHEC epidemic broke out in Germany a few months ago, a number of severe bacterial food poisonings have now occurred in the USA. According to US health officials, at least 13 people have died from the effects of the infectious disease in a short period of time. Another 72 people are suffering from listeriosis. All patients had previously eaten honeydew melons contaminated with listeria. Listeria belong to the genus of anaerobic bacteria.

More deaths feared
According to the FDA, the food agency is concerned about further serious cases of death. Because the incubation period can be up to eight weeks, as the government spokeswoman Margaret Hamburg explained. The bacteria-contaminated fruits come from the agricultural area of ​​the state of Colorado. The melons were sold in a total of 25 states. The infectious disease had occurred in 18 states. The authorities rule out a danger for people in Germany because, according to initial knowledge, the melons were not exported to Europe. The first acute patient case already occurred at the beginning of September, according to Thomas Frieden from the US health authority CDC. In the past ten years, there has been no similar case of large-scale severe food poisoning, in which as many people have died as the expert explained.

Listeria also in German food
A Listeria epidemic can happen in Germany at any time. A manufacturer only had to recall its goods last week because the bacterium was discovered in a sample. According to statements by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), several thousand people become infected with listeria every year. However, most do not notice the infection or only experience slight abdominal pain or nausea. The bacteria are often found in foods such as meat, fish, vegetables and aged cheese. If more than 100 bacteria per gram are found in laboratory samples during the estimated shelf life, the goods must be removed from the market immediately. In order to guarantee the quality of the food, regular samples are taken in Germany. Nevertheless, 250 to 300 cases of listeriosis occur each year. The disease is still relatively rare compared to others.

Symptoms resemble seasonal flu
The course of the disease is similar to that of flu, which is why doctors initially do not interpret the symptoms correctly. Those affected initially suffer from diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. If a large number of bacteria have been absorbed and the patients are physically weakened, headaches, drowsiness and symptoms of paralysis are added. In unfavorable constellations, listeriosis can also lead to death. This usually happens when therapy is too late and organs have already been affected.

Timely diagnosis is a major problem. It can take weeks and even months between eating bacterially contaminated food and the onset of the disease. An outbreak period of over two months has been observed in some cases. Most patients cannot establish a context between the discomfort and eating food. For the symptoms described, patients should therefore insist on a laboratory test. A targeted diagnosis can be made through the laboratory findings. Antibiotics are administered as the first choice, which usually achieve a cure.

Maintain hygiene in food processing
Prevention is still the best way to protect yourself. Since the EHEC cases in Germany, many people have become sensitized to hygiene when handling food. Cold and vacuum packaging do not bother the Listeria bacteria. The food bacteria can often multiply in spite of poor living conditions. For this reason, meat products should be heated to at least 70 degrees Celsius and fruits and vegetables washed thoroughly with water. Important: The vegetables or fruit should not be processed on the same kitchen board on which fish or meat was previously prepared. (sb)

Also read:
Antipasti contaminated with Listeria bacteria
Aldi calls back salami with Listeria bacteria
Every seventh ice cream is contaminated with germs
Net markets: Bacteria found in cheese
Symptoms of an EHEC infection

Image: berwis /

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Video: Safe Food Matters: Listeria Awareness


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