MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Mary Rabdebo won't be eating cantaloupe for a while after learning the fruit has been linked to a listeria outbreak that the Centers for Disease Control confirmed has caused as many as 16 deaths in eight states.
Rabdebo, who picked up some apples, bananas and other fruit at the Harvest Field Market Friday, has struck cantaloupe from her list for at least a few weeks.
"I wasn't so concerned at first, but after 16 deaths and a lot of other people being sick, I think I'll stay away from it for a while," the Mamaroneck resident said.
Bacteria linked to tainted cantaloupes has caused the deadliest food outbreak in the nation in more than a decade.
As many as 16 people have died and more than 70 have fallen ill from a possible listeria outbreak related to cantaloupes, according to a report in USA Today. The affected fruit comes from Colorado. A report in The Washington Post said the fruit comes from Jensen Farms in that state.
The Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday confirmed deaths in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Maryland.
USA Today reported that Dr. Robert Tauxe of the CDC said the death and illness count could increase in the next few weeks because the symptoms of listeria, the bacteria responsible for the outbreak, sometimes do not manifest until four weeks or more after someone eats food tainted by the bacteria.
Rabdebo gave her husband cantaloupe a few days prior to hearing about the outbreak, and, although she said he is fine, is concerned for his health. "Honestly, I don't know where its from," she said. "But he's still fine."
Listeria mainly affects the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC website. Symptoms include a fever and muscle aches, sometimes followed by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.
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