One person has died and a person had a pregnancy loss from a listeria outbreak that has gotten over a dozen people sick across the country, with no definitive source determined other than it being linked to deli meat and cheese, health officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday announced 16 confirmed listeria outbreak cases have been reported by six states – seven cases in New York, three in Maryland, two in Illinois and Massachusetts, as well as one each in New Jersey and California. The first case was reported on April 17, 2021, with the most recent one reported on Sept. 29, 2022.
Of the 16 cases, 13 resulted in hospitalizations. The one reported death was from Maryland, and one sick person fell ill during their pregnancy, resulting in pregnancy loss.
The true number of sick people is likely higher, the CDC says, because people can recover from listeria sickness without medical care and the outbreak may not be limited to other states.
The CDC said local and state public health officials have been interviewing people about the foods they ate prior to illness. Of the 12 people interviewed, 11 reported eating meat or cheese from deli counters. Of the seven people sick in New York, five bought sliced deli meat or cheese from a international food grocery chain NetCost Market.
But health investigators do not believe NetCost Market delis are the only source of the outbreak, as a specific source of it has yet to be confirmed and some who got sick did not shop at the grocery chain.
“It is difficult for investigators to identify a single food as the source of outbreaks linked to deli meats and cheeses. This is because Listeria spreads easily between food and the deli environment and can persist for a long time in deli display cases and on equipment,” the CDC said. “A contaminated food likely introduced the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in multiple states.”
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In addition to a less serious intestinal illness, which can lead to diarrhea and vomiting but usually resolves itself without antibiotic treatment, the CDC says listeria can cause severe illness. Symptoms usually start within two weeks of eating contaminated food, but can start the same day or as late as 10 weeks later. Pregnant people, newborns and adults 65 years and older are at higher risk of severe illness, as it can cause pregnancy loss or premature births.
Health officials advise those at higher risk for listeria infection – those who are pregnant, 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system – not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter, unless it is reheated to internal temperatures of 165 degrees. People are also advised to clean refrigerators, containers and surfaces that may have touched deli meat or cheese, since it can grow on foods kept inside refrigerators.
If you or someone you known feels like they are experiencing severe symptoms of listeria, they are urged to call their healthcare provider.
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Story Credit: usatoday.com