June 17, 2024

Listeria Risk 24 Times Greater for Hispanic Pregnant Women

Two Listeria outbreaks this year illustrate how badly the odds are stacked against Hispanic pregnant women when it comes to Listeria.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more likely than the general population to get Listeria poisoning. A major factor in the increased risk is the consumption of queso fresco and other soft cheeses.

Listeria IllustrationAll of the case patients in the two multistate Listeria outbreaks linked to soft-cheeses this year were Hispanic. Some of them were pregnant women. Some were newborns. And some of them died.

Because their immune systems are suppressed, all pregnant women are at special risk for Listeria, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and listeriosis in newborns. But the risk is even greater for those who are Hispanic.

In October, the CDC announced an outbreak linked to Oasis cheeses that killed one person in Tennessee and sickened two others in New York and Texas. One case was related to a pregnancy and was diagnosed in a newborn.  The two surviving patients reported consuming quesito casero before they became ill.

In March, an outbreak linked to Roos Cheese sickened eight people in Maryland and California. Three of the victims were newborns, two mothers of the newborns were also sickened. One person died.

One way to reduce the risk of Listeria during pregnancy is avoid soft cheese such as queso fresco, brie, feta, camenbert and blue-veined cheeses.



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