NEWS SCAN: Dallas-area West Nile deaths reach 10, cantaloupe Listeria probe

Aug 14, 2012

Dallas County reports 10th West Nile death
Health officials in Dallas County, Tex., yesterday confirmed another death from West Nile virus (WNV), pushing the total to 10 this season. The patient, who lived in the zip code that covers part of the suburb Preston Hollow, had been diagnosed with WNV neuroinvasive disease, according to a statement from the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services (DCDHHS). The Dallas area is experiencing its largest outbreak of mosquito-borne disease in about 50 years, which recently prompted the county to approve the use of aerial spraying to battle the disease, based on strong recommendations from the Dallas County Medical Society.
Aug 13 DCDHHS statement
In other WNV developments, Mississippi health officials yesterday reported 26 new WNV cases, raising the state's 2012 total to 59 and exceeding the 52 infections reported in 2011. So far the state has reported one death this year from the disease, according to a statement from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). The new cases are from 13 different counties.
Aug 13 MSDH statement

US officials weighing criminal charges over cantaloupe outbreak, lawyer says
Federal officials are considering criminal charges against the owners of Jensen Farms, the cantaloupe processor linked to a Listeria outbreak last year that sickened at least 146 people and killed at least 30, a prominent food safety lawyer told Bloomberg News. Seattle-based attorney Bill Marler sent an e-mail on Aug 12 to clients alerting them that the US Attorney's office in Colorado has started a probe, which he said is unusual for foodborne outbreaks, according to the article today. "The investigators were here 3 weeks ago, and we turned over all the files on death cases to them," said Marler, who is representing 42 patients, including the families of about 20 people who died. "It's an ongoing investigation." The federal investigation focuses on brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen, co-owners of Jensen Farms, Marler told Bloomberg. A congressional probe found that the outbreak might have been averted if Jensen Farms had followed federal food safety guidelines, the story said.
Aug 14 Bloomberg story

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