When 73-year-old Cheryle Ferda of Blackwell, Okla., became deathly ill after eating a listeria-tainted melon she thought she had a bad case of the flu.

Ferda is a nurse and she knew that she was in rough shape when she was hospitalized on Sept. 5, delirious with a fever that topped 105 degrees.

Ferda says the infection caused by eating tainted cantaloupe was so severe that she had a stroke and was in critical care during her 15-day hospital stay.

Ferda has worked as an infection control nurse, so she understood the seriousness when she learned she had listeria. Oklahoma health officials interviewed her for eight hours.

Ferda said because thousands of people have become sick and several have died, it’s imperative that people be aware of safe food precautions.