CDC Warns of Deadly Multi-State Listeria Outbreak Potentially Linked to Deli Products

Investigators have determined most victims of the outbreak appear to have eaten deli meats or cheeses before falling ill

At least one death and 16 illnesses have been linked to a multi-state listeria food poisoning outbreak, which investigators indicate may be linked to certain deli meats or cheeses.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the multistate Listeria monocytogenes outbreak November 9, warning that at least 13 of the 16 illnesses were serious enough to require hospitalization and one individual has died. In addition, a pregnant woman sickened with listeria lost her baby due to the infection.

The outbreak involves confirmed cases in New York, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and New Jersey.

The CDC, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other public health entities are investigating the multistate outbreak which clues suggest may be linked to deli meat or cheeses, or both.

People who have been sickened report eating meat or cheese from deli counters. Of seven people who fell ill in New York, five report eating sliced deli meat or cheese from at least one location; NetCost Market grocery store chain. However, people from other states who were sickened also report eating deli meats or cheeses from other delis.

In 2021, New York had outbreaks of Listeria linked back to deli meats and cheese from NetCost market. In September 2022, the strain was found again at the same Brooklyn NetCost Market deli. After deep cleaning, environmental testing did not identify Listeria at the deli.

Listeria Outbreak Under Investigation

The health agencies are working to identify specific products or delis that may be affected by the outbreak.

Investigators believe a contaminated food product introduced the strain of Listeria into delis in multiple states. Health officials are investigating what food product was contaminated.

Lab analyses of sickened people indicate they have all been affected by the same genetic strain of Listeria is related, suggesting a common source.

Those at high risk of contracting Listeria should not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter until it has been reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, the CDC warns. They urge consumers to call their doctor right away if they experience any symptoms of Listeria illness after eating meat or cheese from a deli.

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The Listeria monocytogenes organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, posing a particularly serious risk for persons with weakened immune systems. However, even healthy individuals can suffer side effects, including short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Among pregnant women, listeria monocytogenes infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

Symptoms of Listeria poisoning usually start one to four weeks after eating food contaminated with the bacteria, but can start the same day or even up to 70 days after consumption.

In some cases, severe food poisoning from Listeria may result if the bacteria spreads beyond the gut to other areas of the body. The CDC advises anyone experiencing any symptoms of headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches after eating the contaminated product go see a healthcare professional.

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