December 7, 2021

Largest Multistate Outbreaks of 2014 #4: Caramel Apples

The current ongoing outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples is the fourth largest of 2014, although that may change before the year ends. As of December 22, 2014, at least 29 people in 10 states have been sickened in this outbreak. All 29 people have been hospitalized, and five people have died. Three cases of Listeria meningitis have been reported among otherwise healthy children.

Caramel-AppleThe government has taken the unusual step of telling consumers to avoid eating any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples until further notice, since they do not know exactly which brands were contaminated. Three companies have issued recalls of their caramel apple products: Happy Apples, California Snack Foods’ Karm’l Dapples, and Merb’s Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples. Bidart Brothers supplied the apples to at least two of these producers.

The case count by state is: Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Patients developed listeriosis from October 17, 2014, to November 27, 2014. Non-pregnant patient age ranges are from 7 to 92 years, with a median age of 66 years. Nine of the illnesses are pregnancy-related. Eighty-seven per cent of the ill persons interviewed ate commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill.

Symptoms of listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, include flu-like fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. Pregnant women may only have a mild illness similar to the flu, but listeriosis can cause serious complications of pregnancy, including miscarriage and stillbirth.

If you purchased any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples since August and still have them in your home, throw them away immediately and clean the storage area with a mild bleach solution. If you ate any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples this fall, monitor yourself for the symptoms of listeriosis. If you do get sick, see your doctor immediately for treatment.


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