- A multi-state outbreak of listeria has been reported by the CDC.
- Listeria is known to cause fever and flu-like symptoms that are self-limited in most people.
- The infection, called listeriosis, is most severe in pregnant people, adults over the age of 65, and individuals who are immune-compromised.
A listeria outbreak caused by contaminated deli meats and cheeses has been linked to 16 illnesses, 13 hospitalizations, and one death.
One of the patients was pregnant and lost the pregnancy.
Listeria is known to cause fever and flu-like symptoms that are self-limited in most people. The infection, called listeriosis, is most severe in pregnant people, adults over the age of 65, and individuals who are immune-compromised.
Health officials suspect that the number of infected people is underreported.
“This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Listeria. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes
To identify the cause of the outbreak, health officials interviewed 12 of the people who got sick about the type of foods they ate leading up to their illness.
Of the 12 interviewed, 11 said they ate meats and cheeses prepared on deli counters. Seven of the individuals who got sick in New York said they bought deli meats and cheeses from a NetCost Market shop in Brooklyn — a grocery store chain that sells international foods.
The Brooklyn store has since been closed, disinfected, and reopened.
Health officials suspect that a contaminated food, that was distributed to multiple states, triggered the outbreak.
The cases in other states were also linked to meats and cheeses sold at deli counters.
The first case identified in the outbreak occurred in
It usually takes up to a
The CDC is encouraging people to not eat meats or cheeses prepared on deli counters, unless the foods are reheated to 165°F or until they’re steaming hot.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security and an infectious disease expert, says that listeria invades the cells of the intestine and causes an inflammatory response that’s responsible for a range of symptoms.
In most people, listeria typically causes fever, flu-like symptoms like muscle aches and fatigue, headache, confusion, and loss of balance. Some people will experience gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting.
According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 20 people who get sick from listeria will die.
In pregnant people, who are at higher risk, it usually causes fever and flu-like symptoms. Symptoms will be mild in most pregnant people, however, it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or a life-threatening infection in the baby.
This is because once inside the body, listeria can spread to other organs, like the brain, and even cross the placenta.
Gastrointestinal symptoms typically begin within 24 hours after eating the contaminated food and last up to three days. Invasive listeriosis has an incubation period of 10 days and symptoms largely depend on where the bacteria has traveled to in the body.
“If the central nervous system mental status changes, headache and neck stiffness can occur. If the bloodstream, septic shock can occur,” Adalja said.
Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.
If you think you ate foods that are potentially linked to the outbreak, be on the lookout for any symptoms associated with listeriosis.
If you have any symptoms, contact a healthcare provider immediately. Most people will have mild symptoms, but the infection can quickly become life-threatening in people who are at risk for serious illness.
“Simple gastroenteritis in an immunocompetent host can be self-limited but any risk factors should prompt initiation of antibiotics,” Adalja said.
A listeria outbreak caused by contaminated deli meats and cheeses has been linked to 16 illnesses, 13 hospitalizations, and one death. Most of the cases were caused by deli meats sold at a grocery store in Brooklyn, NY, however, cases have been detected in six states total.