August 22, 2019

Listeria Outbreak Linked to Oasis Cheese Ends

oasis-listeria-cheeseA Listeria outbreak linked to soft cheeses sold under the brand names Oasis, Lacteos Santa Martha and  Hondu Crema has ended after sickening five people in four states, one of whom died, according to a final report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There was one illness reported in each of the following states: Georgia, New York, and Texas and two cases reported in Tennessee. The fatality occurred in Tennessee.

All of those sickened were Hispanic, three of the cases were related to a pregnancy, one case was diagnosed in a newborn baby. Because their immune systems are weakened, pregnant women are at special risk for Listeria which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and illness in newborn babies. Because of the likelihood that they will consume soft Mexican-style cheeses, pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more likely than the general population to get Listeria poisoning, according to the CDC.

Two of the case patients interviewed by health investigators reported consuming quesito casero, before they became ill. Information from case patient interviews along with results of whole genome sequencing tests suggests that soft cheese produced by Oasis Brands Inc. of Miami are the source of this outbreak. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found Listeria in environmental samples collected from the Oasis production facility.

Between August 4 and October 16, Oasis issued three recalls for soft cheeses potentially contaminated with Listeria: an August 4 recall for quesito casero (fresh curd), an October 6 recall for cuajada en hoja (fresh curd)  and an October 16 recall for various Lacteos Santa Martha and one Hondu Crema brand cheese and dairy products. Oasis has ceased manufacturing of all products, including the recalled products.

Symptoms of a Listeria infection develop within three to 70 days of exposure and include diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, fever, headache, stiff neck and muscle aches. Pregnant women may only have a mild illness similar to the flu, but listeriosis can cause stillbirth, miscarriage, premature labor, and infection of the newborn baby. Some doctors give their patients prophylactic antibiotics to prevent this serious infection. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor.

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