U.S. Listeria cases likely to rise through Oct: officials

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 28, 2011 2:59 PM

(Reuters) - Cases of illness in the U.S. listeria outbreak linked to tainted cantaloupes -- already the deadliest in a decade -- will likely rise in the next month as more people who have been infected with the bacteria begin to develop symptoms, health officials said on Wednesday.

To date, 13 people have died and 72 people have been infected in the outbreak in 18 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unlike E. coli and salmonella, two common causes of foodborne disease, Listeria bacteria can cause disease and illness as long as two months after a person has consumed contaminated food, making these outbreaks especially vexing.

"We will see more cases likely through October," U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a telephone briefing.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech)