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21 deaths now linked to listeria in cantaloupe

October 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A nationwide outbreak of listeria is now responsible for 21 deaths and the number may continue to grow, federal health officials said Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported new deaths in Indiana and New York. The CDC also confirmed a death in Wyoming that state officials reported a week ago.

In addition to the deaths, the CDC also said 109 people have been sickened in the outbreak.

The death toll in the cantaloupe outbreak has now tied a 1998 outbreak of listeria in hot dogs and possibly deli meats. Before that, the deadliest outbreak was believed to have involved listeria in Mexican cheese in 1985.

Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo. recalled the tainted cantaloupes Sept. 14. They were shipped all over the country but should be off store shelves by now.

No information has been released on how the cantaloupe contamination may have happened. Authorities say the investigation is ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.