THE death toll from Australia’s listeria outbreak continues to rise as yet more people fall ill.
Seventeen cases have now been confirmed across the eastern seaboard, including four deaths.
The fourth fatality occurred in Victoria, taking the death toll in the southern state to two.
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Two others have died from the same strain of listeria in New South Wales.
The outbreak has been linked to a rockmelon grower at Nericon near Griffith, in the NSW Riverina.
The producer ceased production immediately after being informed of the contamination.
Health authorities first went public with news of the outbreak late last month.
At the time, they urged anyone with the fruit in their home to throw it out.
All affected melons have since been removed from supermarket shelves.
Listeria can be extremely serious and even life-threatening for people over the age of 70, pregnant women, and anyone suffering from diabetes, cancer or weakened immune systems.
Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea and can often take a few days or as long as six weeks to appear.
Unfortunately, there are no useful tests for the infection prior to the onset of symptoms, so people most at risk are urged to consult their doctor as early as possible should symptoms appear.