Two dead after eating listeria-infected rockmelon

Two dead after eating listeria-infected rockmelon

Two of the six who became ill in NSW subsequently died, a NSW Health spokeswoman confirmed.

Australian Melon Association industry development manager Dianne Fullelove told ABC the grower was devastated.

The NSW Food Authority said in a statement it is advising consumers who are most vulnerable to Listeria infection such as older persons, and people who have weakened immune systems due to illness or pregnancy, to avoid eating rockmelon after a recent spike in listeriosis cases in elderly people has been linked to the fruit.

"Any affected product is being removed from the supply chain, so consumers can be assured rockmelons now available on shelves are not implicated in this outbreak", the NSW Food Authority said.

The fruit was pulled from supermarket shelves across the country.

NSW Health reported the outbreak of the bacterial infection on February 23 after an increase in reported cases across the state, before a connection to the fruit was made. Ten are being blamed on the contaminated rockmelon. It can cause death in people with compromised immune systems.

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Most people can eat Listeria bacteria without falling ill but those that do fall ill may experience symptoms such as fever, headache, tiredness, aches and pains.

The infection is particularly unsafe to the elderly, pregnant women and people who have underlying health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart and kidney disease.

All rockmelons purchased before the recall on 28th February should be discarded or taken back to the store for a full refund.

Before the results, Mrs Booth believed listeria bacteria took six to eight weeks to show symptoms, but she had eaten rockmelon just 24 hours earlier and believes it may have been the source of the bacteria even though she knew the supplier had followed safe food handling. If you show any symptoms, the NSW Food Authority is warning people to seek medical help as soon as possible. The bacteria can't be seen or tasted.

"Rockmelon has a rough surface and the bacteria can get in the grooves and doesn't come off easily, and spreads through the fruit during cutting", he said.

Listeria could reproduce at relatively low temperatures, he said, which meant refrigeration was not always adequate to prevent its growth.

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