Two dead after rockmelons pulled from shelves

TWO people in NSW have died from listeria after consuming contaminated rockmelon from a grower in the NSW Riverina region.

There are reports the two victims were hit by the bug after eating the fruit from a grower at Nericon in central-western NSW.

Ten others have been struck down by food poisoning caused by listeria after eating the contaminated fruit.

All states and territories are working together to investigate the current outbreak, which has hit six elderly people in NSW, one in Victoria and three in Queensland.

The company in central-western NSW voluntarily ceased production last Friday, shortly after being notified of a potential link to illness, the NSW Food Authority said.

Affected fruit has been removed from supermarkets, but people may already have infected rockmelons in their homes and are being urged not to eat the fruit.

Listeria is particularly dangerous to pregnant women, with the Victorian Health Department warning them to avoid eating rockmelon if they are unsure of its origin.

The NSW Food Authority has warned consumers most vulnerable to Listeria infection - such as older people and those with weakened immune systems due to illness or pregnancy - to avoid the fruit if they haven't checked its source, and throw it out if they already have rockmelon at home. But authorities have withdrawn the affected melons from sale and distribution.

WHAT IS LISTERIA

Listeria is found widely in the environment and rarely causes serious illness in the general population but for vulnerable people, it can be extremely serious or even life threatening, the Food Authority said.

Listeriosis starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea.

The symptoms can take a few days or even up to six weeks to appear after eating contaminated produce. People at risk should consult their local doctor as early as possible should symptoms appear.


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