While several possible new listeria cases have cropped up in Nebraska, state health officials say only four cases are confirmed.
It’s an illness often connected with food and food handling. Deb Scholten, health director of the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department in Wayne, says this infection came from an unexpected source.
Listeria is normally found in raw milk and lunch meat and not very often in fruits and vegetables. In this case, it was traced to cantaloupes that came from Jensen Farms in Rocky Ford, Colorado.
Scholten says the disease often resembles stomach flu, which makes it especially dangerous for women who are expecting.
“Pregnant women who contract listeria might show mild flu-like symptoms but it can be very harmful and cause still births and miscarriages,” she says. The ailment can also be particularly harmful to the elderly and people who have a compromised immune system.
Scholten says there are recommendations to avoid illnesses like listeria.
“Wash your fruits and vegetables,” she says. “Even when you buy lettuce that says ‘pre-washed,’ wash it anyway. That’s really important and then always using good hand hygiene.”
She says the disease results from direct contact and is not spread person-to-person.
Of the four confirmed cases in Nebraska, all of the patients are elderly and all have been or are still hospitalized. Two cases are from Douglas County, with one each from Gage and Hitchcock counties.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton