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Philpott said she did not know the state or the store, or the agency that found it, and the recall was voluntary.

She said the company shipped more than 300,000 cases across the country during the period covered by the recall, but the company has recalled the entire harvest as a precaution.

The tests were first reported by KMGH-TV ( http://bit.ly/rsksgM).

The farm stopped harvesting on Monday when Colorado health officials issued an alert and notified retailers to remove the cantaloupes from shelves, Philpott said.

New Mexico has blamed three deaths on the outbreak, but epidemiologist Chad Smelser said Thursday that one death has been confirmed and the other two are pending results from the CDC.

The CDC said almost all of the victims interviewed remember eating cantaloupe and several remembered that they were from the Rocky Ford region.

The agency said about 800 cases of listeria are diagnosed in the United States each year and there are three or four outbreaks of it a year. Deli meats, hot dogs and cheese are the most frequent carriers, and outbreaks in produce are rare. Sprouts caused an outbreak in 2009, however, and celery caused an outbreak in 2010.

Cantaloupe is often a culprit in foodborne illness outbreaks, but not listeriosis. Earlier this year, state and federal authorities linked 12 salmonella illnesses, many of them in the West, to cantaloupes imported from Guatemala.

The cantaloupes were shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10 and distributed throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, confusion and convulsions.

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Associated Press writers P. Solomon Banda in Denver and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.

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Online:

http://1.usa.gov/pyQxF0

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