The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that eight people from four states have been infected with Listeria monocytogenes.
Public health authorities are linking the outbreak to deli-sliced meats and cheeses. Several states and federal government agencies are investigating and monitoring the outbreak.
Multistate Listeria Outbreak
According to the report released on Wednesday, April 17, all eight infected individuals were hospitalized. One person in Michigan died.
People who got sick reported eating different types of products, including meats and cheeses purchased from delis in separate locations. No common supplier has been identified as of yet. However, laboratory testing indicated that meats and cheeses sliced at deli counters were contaminated with Listeria.
What Is Listeria?
Listeria is commonly transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food. The CDC estimates that about 1,600 people across the United States get infected every year. Of that number, 260 people would die from the illness. Listeria is the third leading cause of death from food-borne illnesses or food poisoning.
The people who are most likely to get sick from eating contaminated food are pregnant women, older adults aged 65 years and above, and people who have compromised or weakened immune system. If infected, a patient might experience fever and diarrhea.
However, other symptoms might appear based on the person or the infected body part. If left untreated, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
Listeria is treated with antibiotics.
How To Avoid Listeria?
The CDC listed ways to prevent the spread of Listeria, including hand washing after handling deli meats and deli cheeses. The public health agency also stated that store-opened packages of meat sliced at local delis should not be kept longer than five days in the refrigerator.
The public is advised to clean refrigerators, kitchen countertops, utensils, and other items that have come in contact with deli-sliced products.
Meanwhile, retailers are reminded to regularly clean and sanitize their equipment to avoid contamination.
"CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating products prepared at delis, or that retailers stop selling deli-sliced products," the report reads. "This outbreak is a reminder that people at higher risk for severe Listeria infection should handle deli-sliced meats and cheeses carefully to prevent illness."
People who experience symptoms after eating deli-sliced products, especially people who are at high risk of infection, should immediately contact their healthcare provider. People who have eaten deli products but do not develop symptoms of infection are not required to get tests or treatment.