October 21, 2018

Largest Multi-State Food Poisoning Outbreaks Of 2012: #9

A Listeria outbreak linked to imported, ricotta salata cheese was the ninth largest multi-state food poisoning outbreak of 2012, based on the total number of people sickened. Announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September, the outbreak sickened 22 people in 13 states and the District of Columbia and killed four people making it one of the deadliest outbreaks of the year.

Listeria Monocytogenes BacteriaListeria monocytogenes has and 80 percent hospital rate and 20 percent fatality rate. In this outbreak, 20 of the 22 people sickened were hospitalized, the highest hospitalization rate among the 10 largest multi-state food poisoning outbreaks of 2012. Listeria symptoms, which include headache, fever and muscle stiffness sometimes accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms, can take as long as two months after exposure to develop.  Pregnant women are especially at risk. Although they may only experience mild, flu-like symptoms, Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and birth defects. In this outbreak, nine of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three of these were diagnosed in newborns. One fetal loss also was reported.

By state, the case was as follows: California (3), Colorado (1), District of Columbia (1), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (2), and Washington (1). The four deaths reported occurred in Minnesota, New York, Nebraska, and California.

The source of the outbreak was identified as Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata, imported from Italy and distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc. The exporter of the cheese, Fattorie Chiarappa, of Conversano, Italy was placed on an import alert by the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September, meaning products from the company will be denied admission to the US  unless the importer can show that the cheese product is not contaminated with Listeria.

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