Over-60s warned not to eat rockmelon following deadly outbreak

People are being encouraged not to eat rockmelon after several people around the country contracted Listeria infections. Source: Pixabay

The New South Wales Food Authority has advised Baby Boomers and other members of the community to avoid eating rockmelon after a number of older people became infected with listeriosis. It’s so serious that numerous reports have suggested two people have died in Australia as a result of eating the infected fruit.

The spike in Listeria infections has been directly linked to the consumption of the tasty orange melon, with an array of other people including those with weakened immune systems and expecting mothers also encouraged to avoid eating rockmelon altogether.

The NSW Food Authority issued a statement and encouraged people who already had rockmelons to dispose of it immediately. Listeria can become life-threatening to some members of the general population, particularly those who are over the age of 70, have diabetes, cancer or even suppressed immune systems. In many cases, it travels around the environment without causing any harm, but it can be deadly for these members of the public. 

All states and territories around Australia are currently working together to investigate what caused the outbreak, but has found that ten cases are causing concern around the nation. Six elderly patients from New South Wales, three from Queensland and one from Victoria have shown symptoms throughout the past few months. It was two people from New South Wales that died as a result of eating the contaminated fruit. All patients admitted to eating rockmelon prior to their diagnosis, leading authorities to link the fruit with the outbreak. Each person began showing initial symptoms between January 17 and February 9.

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It is believed the outbreak started in Nericon, New South Wales, with the grower ceasing production last Friday after being informed that it could have been the source of the worrying virus. The Food Authority is currently investigating what went wrong and how long it will be until production resumes to normal.

As a precaution, all affected products have been removed from the supply chain, while rockmelon currently on shelves shouldn’t be impacted by the Listeria outbreak.

People with listeriosis usually show flu-like symptoms including a fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhoea. Some people show symptoms immediately, while others can take more than six weeks to appear after eating food at risk. If you show any symptoms, the NSW Food Authority is warning people to seek medical help as soon as possible.

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In addition to contaminated rockmelon, those most at risk of contracting listeriosis have been warned to avoid pre-cut melons, pre-packed cold salads, deli meats and chickens, raw seafood, soft cheeses, raw mushrooms and unpasteurised milk products.

If you feel you are at risk, the NSW Food Authority has more information available on their website here.

What do you think? Are you concerned that you may contracted listeriosis? Do you eat rockmelon often?

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