A listeria outbreak has been linked to 13 deaths across the United States. Tainted cantaloupes are to blame for this contaminated food issue in the United States. This is the worst listeria outbreak in over a decade in the United States.
This isn't the first, nor the worst, listeria outbreak in North America. Here is a relevant timeline of notable outbreaks in and around the United States in modern times.
Jan. 1, 1985: First major outbreak began
The first case of listeria was reported to the Centers of Disease of Control and Prevention regarding soft Mexican cheese. An abnormally high amount of pregnant Hispanic women were complaining of listeria symptoms throughout the first six months of 1985. The Mayo Clinic states symptoms of listeria infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea and muscle aches. As the bacterial infection progresses, symptoms may also include headache, loss of balance and even convulsions.
June 14, 1985: Last case revealed
The last of 86 cases of listeria was reported to the CDC six months after it started. The Los Angeles Times states the final report blamed Jalisco and the raw milk they used in making soft cheese. The reason for over 50 deaths , most of them in the Hispanic community, was that the foods originated in Mexico. Many babies were stillborn because of the outbreak.
Aug. 2, 1998: Listeria outbreak from hot dogs
The CDC reported listeria cases in early August 1998 due to contaminated hot dogs. As many as 40 cases were reported over 10 states resulting in four deaths.
Dec. 2, 1998: Listeria outbreak ended
The last case of listeria due to contaminated hot dogs ended four months later. Of the four deaths, three were elderly and one was a fetus still in the womb.
Dec. 22, 1998: Hot dog recall
Bill Mar Foods, a subsidiary of Sara Lee, voluntarily recalled some of its hot dogs due to possible listeria contamination. Brands affected included Ball Park, Grillmaster and Bryan.
May 17, 2000: Cargill turkey contaminated
The first case of a listeria outbreak in May 2000 was linked to Cargill and its ready-to-eat turkey. In all, 29 illnesses were identified by the CDC over 10 states. Just over half of the cases were in New York.
Nov. 26, 2000: Last case reported due to turkey
The final listeria victim of the Cargill case was reported six months later. There were four deaths associated with this particular outbreak. There were also three miscarriages blamed upon the bacterial infection.
Dec. 12, 2000: Cargill recall
Cargill stopped shipments of deli turkey meat for fear they might have been contaminated with listeria. Two days later, chicken and turkey meat were recalled.
June 2008: Ontario faced listeria outbreak
In the summer of 2008, Canada faced its own listeria difficulty when the number of cases normally reported were doubled. Officials in Toronto found contaminated samples in a nursing home a month later.
Aug. 16, 2008: Maple Leaf Foods implicated
Maple Leaf Foods was implicated in the listeria outbreak when some of its ready-to-eat corned beef tested positive for the bacteria. Canada normally sees around 140 cases annually but there were 57 instances of the disease reported due to this particular outbreak. Of those 57 cases, 23 resulted in death.
July 31, 2011: First cases reported for cantaloupes
The first cases of listeria as related to the current crisis were reported in late July. As the disease became more prevalent, other cases were reported.
Sept. 14, 2011: Voluntary recall began
William Browning is a research librarian.