Maryland Listeria Outbreak Linked to Mexican-Style Cheese

An outbreak of listeria poisoning has been linked to Mexican-style cheese products, resulting in a number of illnesses in Maryland and one death in California.

A Roos Foods Mexican cheese products recall was announced by the FDA on February 23, following reports of listeria monocytogens associated with the cheese that was distributed in the mid-Atlantic.

According to an investigation underway by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least seven people in Maryland and one person in California have been infected with a strain of listeria found in the Roos cheese products, with five of the illnesses involving newborns or mothers who recently gave birth. All of the patients were of Hispanic ethnicity.

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Listeria may cause serious and sometimes fatal infection in carriers and especially those with weakened immune systems such as young children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Symptoms of listeria infection typically include nausea, muscle ache, diarrhea, fever, and fatigue. Some cases of listeria may become more life threatening when the infection moves through the bloodstream into the nervous system resulting in sometimes fatal infections.

The outbreak was detected after the CDC interviewed the seven Maryland consumers who fell ill with listerosis and were able to determine the connection was the consumption of soft or semi-soft Mexican-style cheese. The CDC was able to link the particular strain of listeria monocytogens to a strain found in a Caujada en Terron (fresh cheese curd) cheese sample taken in Virginia by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (VDCLS).

The VDCLS was then able to test the remaining cheese products which confirmed the presence of the same strain of listeria in multiple samples of products distributed by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware.

Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a warning to consumers on February 19, stating that Roos Foods products may potentially be contaminated with a deadly strain of listeria monocytogens prompting the manufacturer to initiate the recall.

The recall affects Hispanic-style cheese products packaged in 12-ounce and 16-ounce flexible plastic bags and rigid plastic clam shall packages sold under the following name brands; Mexicana, Amigo, Santa Rosa De Lima, and Anita. The products were manufactured by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware where they were distributed to retail stores in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., and California.

The manufacturer recommends that consumers who purchased the affected cheese products destroy them or return them to the place of purchase for a refund. Customers with questions regarding the recall should contact Virginia Mejia at 302-653-8458 or the Center for Disease Control at 800-232-4636.

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