Health warning over rockmelon listeria outbreak

YOU might want to steer clear of rockmelon for a bit: Ten people have been struck down by food poisoning caused by listeria after eating contaminated rockmelon from NSW.

They were hit by the bug after eating the fruit from a grower at Nericon in central-western NSW.

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

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.

If they have one at home already, they should throw it out.

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.

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.

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.

All 10 people consumed rockmelon prior to their illness.

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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