Bacteria contaminated melons leave 3 dead in Australia


Sydney, March 3: Three people have died and 15 others have fallen ill in a listeria bacteria outbreak linked to contaminated rockmelons in Australia, according to the country’s health authorities.

Fifteen elderly people have been infected in the outbreak, which is being linked to one of Australia’s biggest melon producers in the state of New South Wales. All these people had consumed rockmelon, also known as cantaloupe, before falling ill.

The unidentified third victim died in Victoria on Friday, authorities said, following the deaths of two elderly people in New South Wales (NSW) earlier in the week.

Rockmelons have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves across Australia following the outbreak, which began in January, the BBC reported.

Listeria is a bacterium which can be deadly for pregnant women, elderly people, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.

“People vulnerable to listeriosis should discard any rockmelon purchased before March 1,” said Vicky Sheppeard, the director of communicable diseases for the New South Wales Health authority.

Brett Sutton, Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, said the infection began with flu-like symptoms such as a fever, chills and nausea.

“In immunosuppressed patients, listeriosis usually presents as a brain inflammation, brain abscess or blood poisoning. Pneumonia, and heart valve infections have also been described,” he said.