July 10, 2020

Listeria in Cheese Sold at Megamart Sickens 7, Kills 1 No Recall

Listeria in soft cheeses sold at Megamart stores has killed one person in California and sickened seven others in Maryland since August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Listeria monocytogenes bacteriaSeven people have been hospitalized. A recall has not been issued.

The contaminated soft cheeses including queso fresco were made by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware and repackaged by Megamart, which describes itself as a 100 percent Latino supermarket. Megamart has five stores in Maryland located in Silver Spring, Hyattsville, Riverdale, Rockville, Gaithersburg and one in Manassas, Virginia. All of the cases patients in this outbreak are Hispanic.

On February 15, Virginia’s agriculture department announced it had found Listeria monocytogenes, in a sample of Cuajada en Terron (Fresh Cheese Curd) collected from Megamart’s Manassas store at 8328 Shopper’s Square. Ag officials warned consumers not to eat the cheese which was sold in clear, unlabeled plastic bags in the store’s cheese cooler. At that time, no illnesses had been reported in Virginia.

Within a week of the initial announcement, health officials had determined that the cheese was produced by Roos Foods and Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC issued consumer warnings about Roos cheeses sold under the brand names Santa Rosa de Lima, Amigo, Mexicana, Suyapa, La Chapina, and La Purisima Crema Nica. Consumers who have purchased these cheeses should not eat them.

Listeria is one of the rarest and deadliest foodborne pathogens. About 90 percent of the 800 cases of listeriosis reported nationwide each year will require hospitalization, for about 16 percent of those sickened the illness will be fatal.

Listeria is especially dangerous for pregnant women and newborns causing miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and birth defects even while the mother experiences only mild flu-like symptoms. In this outbreak, four of the cases are mother/newborn pairs and another patient is a newborn. The CDC has not released the age of the person who died.

The symptoms of listeriosis include high fever, stiff neck, severe headache, nausea, and diarrhea. Pregnant women may only have mild symptoms that are similar to the flu. If you ate these products and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.


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