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Cantaloupe listeria toll climbs again: 123 sick, 25 dead

Illnesses and deaths tied to listeria-tainted cantaloupe continued to rise Tuesday, with federal health officials reporting 123 sickened and 25 dead in the ongoing food poisoning outbreak.

More than 310,000 cases of cantaloupe recalled by Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo., are long gone from the shelves and pantries of stores and should be long past storage in refrigerators. But all of the victims in the outbreak that has now affected 26 states became sick on or before July 31, and more are likely to be diagnosed because people can develop listeriosis up to two months after eating contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The deadliest outbreak of food poisoning in more than 25 years has caused fatalities in a dozen states: six in Colorado, five in New Mexico, two each in Kansas, Louisiana, New York and Texas and one each in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wyoming. People who've died have ranged in age from 48 to 96 years, with a media age of 87.

Illnesses have occured in people younger than 1 to 96, with a median age of 78. Most illnesses have occured in people older than 60. Four illnesses were related to pregnancy, including a newborn who fell ill. One miscarriage has been reported.

Federal Food and Drug Admnistration officials have not disclosed the cause of the outbreak cause by four strains of listeria monocytogenes.