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Melon listeria claims third victim in Australia

Melon listeria claims third victim in Australia

The producers voluntarily ceased production last Friday, immediately after being notified of the potential link to illness.

Three people have died and 15 others have fallen ill in a listeria bacteria outbreak linked to contaminated rockmelons in Australia, according to the country's health authorities.

Victoria's deputy chief health officer said five Victorians had been infected, and that one of those people had died after being hospitalised.

Many more cases are expected.

Rock melons, also known as cantaloupes.

The outbreak has been linked to a melon-grower in New South Wales, whose farm is located near the city of Griffith.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, from New South Wales Health, said: "All 15 cases are elderly people, and a lot of them have significant underlying health conditions".

Authorities say if people are unsure about the origin of a rockmelon, it should be disposed of in the waste bin, not into compost bins, to avoid further contamination.

Rockmelons have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves across Australia following the outbreak, which began in January, the BBC reported. The grower has not supplied fruit since last Friday, and has started a voluntary trade level recall of any fruit that may still be in the market.

Eating foods that contain the listeria bacteria does not cause illness in most people.
But for people with a compromised immune system, the elderly and pregnant women, it can result in severe illness and even death.

Officials in Australia are urging pregnant women, the elderly and people with serious illnesses to throw away pre-cut rockmelon.

Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea and can often take a few days or as long as six weeks to appear.

Listeria is rare in Australia but a deadly outbreak in South Africa has killed more than 170 people since January past year, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said last month.


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