The CDC says that at east 72 people have been sickened and 13 have died as a result of eating cantaloupes tainted with listeria bacteria, making it the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in the U.S. in a decade.
State officials say they are investigating three more deaths -- one each in New Mexico, Kansas, and Wyoming -- that may also be connected to the contaminated Colorado cantaloupes.
The new numbers mean that the death toll has outpaced the number of deaths tied to an outbreak of salmonella in peanut products nearly three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak.
Listeriosis, the illness caused by listeria bacteria, typically strikes vulnerable people, like the elderly, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.
Infection from listeria bacteria starts in the stomach and intestines where it may cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. If it spreads beyond the gut, listeriosis causes flu-like symptoms and worse.