Idaho public health officials are reporting that 43,000 pounds of cantaloupe, possibly contaminated with Listeria, were sent to southeast Idaho in August and donated to the public.
The Listeria outbreak has already claimed 16 lives and infected at least 72 people from Florida to California. There have been no reported deaths in Idaho, but a Jerome County woman was hospitalized in early September with the bacteria.
The cantaloupe reportedly came from Jensen Farms in Colorado, which has been named as the probable source of the nationwide outbreak. KPVI reports that the melons were sent to Select Express, a food distribution company in Aberdeen. Because the fruit was too ripe to sell, Select Express donated it between Aug. 28 and Sept. 2, before the discovery of the link to Jensen Farms.
The terrifying thing about Listeria is that symptoms can crop up as soon as three days or as late as 70 days after consumption of infected fruit. As a result, health officials are urging that anybody who might have consumed the cantaloupe to get medical attention if they observe any symptoms.
People infected usually experience fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other stomach problems. Other symptoms include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.