Dallas County has reported the county's first death linked to Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe.
The Dallas County Health Department said Monday that an 89-year-old resident died of listeriosis after eating cantaloupe sold under the Rocky Farm brand name from Jensen Farms in Colorado.
Even though the contaminated cantaloupe were recalled weeks ago, the threat of Listeria lingers.
“What's unusual about Listeria is that it has a very long incubation period,” said Dr. Wendy Chung, chief epidemiologist for the Dallas County Health Department.
Chung said it can take up to two months before people are sickened from eating them.
“You could have eaten a contaminated food product such as the cantaloupe and not come down with symptoms for many weeks later,” she said.
So far, the Colorado cantaloupe have sickened four people in Dallas and more than 60 nationwide.
Some shoppers said they are steering clear of the melon.
“Of course I wont buy cantaloupes of any sort,” said Beth Burke, a Dallas mother of two.
Three in four North Texans eat cantaloupe in any given week at this time of year, according to the Dallas County Health Department
“The message is not to stop eating cantaloupe," Chung said. "The message is to exercise common sense and use good food handling processes.”
Listeria bacteria can grow at room temperature and in the refrigerator. Health experts say it is important to sanitize countertops and vegetable drawers where cantaloupe may have been stored.