Seven New York residents are among 16 people across the country to become infected in the latest national Listeria outbreak, which is likely tied to deli meats and cheeses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the US, federal health officials are evaluating and monitoring a new Listeria outbreak across six states from coast to coast that led to 13 hospitalizations and one death, launching an active investigation.
According to the CDC, the initial investigation found that deli meat and cheese purchased at deli counters in multiple states are the likely sources of this outbreak.
“Deli meats (cold cuts, lunch meats, hot dogs, and pâtés sold at the deli) and cheeses are known sources of Listeria illnesses,” officials stated. "This is because Listeria can easily spread among food on deli countertops, deli slicers, surfaces, and hands.
“Listeria is a hardy germ that can be difficult to fully remove once it is in the deli. It can survive and grow at cold temperatures in the refrigerator.”
Other states that have been impacted by the outbreak include New York (seven reported illnesses), Massachusetts (two), Illinois (two), New Jersey (one), and California (one).
Officials said that contaminated food likely introduced the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in multiple states, though they have been unable to identify any specific product or deli that may have been affected.
“It is difficult for investigators to identify a single food as the source of outbreaks linked to deli meats and cheeses,” according to the CDC. “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.”
People who are pregnant, age 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments are at a higher risk for severe Listeria illness.
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and their newborns.
Less commonly, others outside those risk groups are affected.
“Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.
"An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems.”
Listeria affects approximately 1,600 Americans each year, killing around 260, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most people suffer only spiking fever, stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches.
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