DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado-based listeria outbreak is quickly becoming one of the deadliest foodborne illnesses in recent U.S. history.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already confirmed eight deaths in four states, including two in Colorado. Now a Mesa County death is also being linked to listeria, but it’s not clear if the case can be tied to the Jensen Farm cantaloupes.
Lois Tufly, 91, from Fruita died this week. Her grandson says she had recently eaten cantaloupe and then started feeling sick before she died. The woman’s family is now working with an attorney who is representing other listeria victims’ families as well.
There are concerns the outbreak will continue to get worse. As the numbers of deaths have risen over the past few weeks one lawyer thinks that it’s just the beginning.
“It’s likely to be over a dozen by Monday or Tuesday. It’s the highest I’ve seen in the last 20 years,” attorney Bill Marler said.
Marler represents a number of the victims’ families in the recent listeria cases.
“One of the things is getting to how this happened and why it happened,” he said.
“At this time both cases are confirmed listeria cases, however, they have not been confirmed as a link to the current cantaloupe outbreak,” Karen Martsolf with the Mesa County Health Department said.
One of the victim’s family members, however, thinks it is.
“She told them what they had and the cantaloupe was one of them and she asked where they bought the cantaloupe at and she told them the Fruita City Market,” Tufly’s grandson Brent Boyce said. “She still had a receipt and they wanted to see that, so there’s a connection there, I assume that’s what it is.”
Taking no chances, the Mesa County victim’s family members have contacted Marler’s law firm.
“I think they’re not at all in a space, and understandably so, to make those decisions,” Marler said. “Families want to get more info about how such a horrible thing can happen.”