The rockmelon in Australia

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Australia’s rockmelon listeria outbreak has claimed another life, bringing the death toll to four.

A total of 17 listeria cases were confirmed across eastern states on Wednesday, with two deaths each in Victoria and New South Wales.

The latest victim was from Victoria, but further details are not yet known.

It’s believed the person died last week, but test results confirming the listeria link have only just been completed.

NSW Health confirmed the state’s fatalities were a man and woman from Sydney, both with “underlying medical conditions”.

“At the time of their deaths, these cases had not been linked to the outbreak and rockmelon had not yet been identified as the source,” a NSW Health spokesperson said in a statement.

A rockmelon grower at Nericon, in the NSW Riverina, has since been identified as the source of suspect fruit.

The producer agreed to stop distribution after being told about the contamination almost two weeks ago.

The NSW government and health authorities were accused of taking too long to warn the public after investigations began in January.

Listeria begins with flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhoea, which can take days or weeks to appear following the consumption of contaminated produce.

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