Listeria sickens local man - KCTV5 News

Listeria sickens local man

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The death toll  and number of people made sick by listeria in cantaloupe is still growing, and so far the bacteria has killed 28 people and sickened 133 in 26 states including Kansas and Missouri, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

One local man contracted the infection after eating tainted cantaloupe.

Paul Schwarz said his father was a spry 92 year old, with a quick wit and a twinkle in his eyes.

Now, he sometimes can't recognize the loved ones who visit him -- not because of Alzheimer's, but because of a fruit cup containing cantaloupe contaminated with listeria.

Paul Schwarz said signs of the father he knew were still present in his hospital room with the nurses.

"Sometimes they would come, and he wouldn't talk but he would go (blows a kiss), like that," said Schwarz.

But it is a far cry from the man who always teased Schwarz about his golf game.

"He was an avid golfer up until he was 88-years-old. It is just something that ... my father is a lot different now. It is not all my father there," said Schwarz.

His father now has brain trauma from the bacteria, plus trouble chewing and speaking because the bacteria spread into his muscles.

"On the morning of the 19th of September he couldn't move his legs. So my older sister called an ambulance," said Schwarz.

It was the second hospital visit that week for Schwarz and his family. Doctors first thought the fever and stomach pains were the flu.

Soon, tests found the bacteria known as listeria, and later the CDC determined it was the strain that came from cantaloupe harvested at Jensen Farms.

Schwarz's family has now filed a lawsuit against Jensen Farms.

A massive dose of antibiotics over two and a half weeks finally killed the bacteria in Schwarz's case but by then, they had spread to his brain and muscles and had done damage that his son can only hope will heal over time.

"I've read a little about Jensen Farms. It is a family affair. No one wants to see them go out of business, but if you're going to sell something to the public, you've got to make sure it's safe. And this wasn't safe," said Schwarz.

The 92-year-old Schwarz was released from the hospital on Friday and is now in a nursing home.

Copyright 2011 KCTV. All rights reserved.

You've no doubt heard about the cantaloupe recall -- and how listeria is making people sick.    
    But a local family is experiencing this horrifying story first hand.

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