An 89-year-old Tarrant County resident's death has been linked to the multistate outbreak of listeriosis involving contaminated cantaloupes from Colorado, county public health officials said Tuesday.
The person had multiple underlying health conditions, said Vanassa Joseph, a public health spokeswoman.
It was one of two Tarrant County cases that state health officials have confirmed are linked to the outbreak. A second case involved a middle-age Tarrant County resident who has been released from the hospital. Officials did not specify the sex of either person.
Two other listeriosis cases have been reported this year, but they were not linked to the strains associated with the melon outbreak, Joseph said.
She warned people to watch for symptoms and check with their physician if they become ill. Symptoms of listeriosis can include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. They typically occur three to 70 days after exposure. The disease primarily affects older people, pregnant women, newborns and people with weakened immune systems.
In Dallas County, four cases have been linked to the outbreak, including one 89-year-old person who died, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services.
At least 72 cases of listeriosis infections in 18 states have been linked to cantaloupes from Colorado since August, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. Thirteen deaths have been reported, including the two in North Texas.
This month, Jensen Farms, which has been linked to the outbreak, issued a voluntary recall of its Rocky Ford brand cantaloupes. People who have cantaloupes at home can check the label or check with the grocery store to determine whether the fruit came from the Rocky Ford region.
Public health officials said that if you have eaten a contaminated product and do not have any symptoms, no tests or treatment is recommended, even if you are in a high-risk group. However, if you are in a high-risk group, have eaten the contaminated product, and within two months of eating it you become ill with fever or other symptoms of listeriosis, you should contact your physician immediately.
People should wash their hands before and after handling cantaloupe, officials say. The surface of the melon should be washed and dried with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting. Cut melon should be promptly refrigerated.
Texas-grown cantaloupes have not been linked to the illnesses.
Health officials know of no other cases of listeriosis linked to the outbreak, Joseph said.
Jan Jarvis, 817-390-7664