July 20, 2018

Listeria in Soft Cheese Sickens 3, Kills 1

Listeria in Oasis brand soft cheese has killed one person and sickened two others, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oasis issued an August 4 recall for quesito casero,  an October 6 recall for cuajada en hoja, and an October 16 recall for various cheeses sold under the Lacteos Santa Martha brand. Consumers who have purchased these cheeses should not eat them as they risk serious illness or death if they do.

oasis-listeria-cheeseHealth officials used whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to compare the strains of the Listeria monocytogenes  isolated from the recalled quesito casero cheese and the strain isolated from the three case patients and found that they were highly related.

The three cases were reported from three states: New York, Tennessee, and Texas.  All three were hospitalized, the death was reported in Tennessee. One illness was related to a pregnancy and was diagnosed in a newborn. Pregnant women are at special risk for Listeria, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and listeriosis in newborns.

All of the case patients are Hispanic and reported consuming Hispanic-style soft cheese before they became ill. The two surviving patients  reported consuming quesito casero, though neither could remember the brand.

During a routine sampling on July 28, 2014, Virginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) identified Listeria monocytogenes in Oasis brand quesito casero. This finding prompted the August 4 recall.

Since that time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Virginia DCLS performed the WGS and the PFGE. The first person became ill on September 13, 2013, and two more recent illnesses occurred on June 25, 2014, and August 13, 2014. This investigation is ongoing.

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