WASHINGTON -- As many as 14 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes - a death toll that would make the outbreak the deadliest in more than a decade.
The Centers for Disease Control said last week that 55 illnesses and eight deaths were linked to the outbreak. Since then, state and local health departments in Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming have reported six additional deaths that may be linked to the tainted fruit.
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Listeria is more deadly than more well-known pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, though those outbreaks generally cause more illnesses. Twenty-one people died in an outbreak of listeria poisoning in 1998 traced to contaminated hot dogs and possibly deli meats.
Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo., recalled cantaloupes earlier this month linked to the illnesses.