As many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to melons, in the deadliest outbreak of food poisoning in the US for more than a decade.
Seventy-two cases of illness, including 13 deaths, are linked to tainted Colorado cantaloupes, said the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials are looking into three more deaths that may be connected.
The deaths in 18 states surpassed the number of fatalities linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak.
The death toll was expected to rise because symptoms of listeria don't always show up right away. It can take four weeks or more for a person to fall ill after eating food contaminated with listeria.
The outbreak has been traced to Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado, which has recalled the melons.