Rockmelons pulled from Aussie supermarket shelves as third person dies

Australians vulnerable to listeriosis have been advised to discard any rockmelon purchased before 1 March

Listeria is commonly found in fruits and dairy products but three Australians died this week after consuming contaminated rock melons.

Of the five new cases, four are from Victoria, taking the total number of cases in the southern state to five, and one is from Tasmania. The health centre concerned should be visited if such symptoms appear.

Three people have died in Australia after eating melon contaminated with listeria bacteria.

Vicky Sheppeard, director of communicable disease for the New South Wales Health Authority has warned people vulnerable with listeriosis to discard melons bought before the first of March.

Rockmelons have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves across Australia following the outbreak, which began in January, the BBC reported. Its cases usually involve unpasteurised milk or dairy products, such as camembert and brie.

Australian Melon Association's Dianne Fullelove said the grower was devastated and would need to meet the requirements set by the NSW Food Authority before resuming production.

Listeria is rare in Australia but a deadly outbreak in South Africa has killed more than 170 people since January previous year.

Further cases are expected to surface as symptoms can take up to six weeks to appear after eating contaminated produce, and NSW Health told consumers to see a doctor if they experience symptoms.

The contamination has been traced to a farm near the city of Griffith in New South Wales.

Listeria is rare in Australia but a deadly outbreak in South Africa has killed more than 170 people since January previous year, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said last month.

Listeria can be extremely serious and even life-threatening for people over the age of 70, pregnant women, and anyone suffering from diabetes, cancer or weakened immune systems.

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