January 17, 2018

CDC Updates Listeria Caramel Apple Outbreak: 7 Dead

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the investigation into the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. As of January 10, 2015, 32 people in 11 states are sickened in this outbreak; 31 people have been hospitalized, three have Listeria meningitis, and seven people have died. Listeriosis contributed to at least three of these deaths. It’s not clear whether or not a Listeria infection contributed to the newly reported death.

Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak 11015

The case count remains the same as the last update on December 31, 2014, but one more person has died. The case count by state is: Arizona (4), California (2), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), Nevada (1), New Mexico (6), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Ten illnesses were pregnancy-related, and one illness caused a fetal loss. Three children aged 5-15 years have developed Listeria meningitis, a serious complication, as a result of the infection.

On January 6, 2015, Bidart Brothers of Bakersfield California recalled all of their Granny Smith and Gala apples produced in 2014 because environmental testing found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria at their apple-packing facility. Lab tests found that those Listeria isolates were the same as the outbreak strains.

Bidart Brothers supplied apples to the brand names involved in this outbreak, including Happy Apples, California Snack Foods, and Merb’s Candies. In the upper Midwest, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture released a list of brand names of caramel apples made with the recalled apples, including Lund’s, Byerly’s, Jerry’s, Abdallah, and more.

To date, 25 of the 28 ill people who have been interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before they got sick. The three people who did not report eating caramel apples did report eating whole or sliced green apples not covered in caramel. The source of these apples is unknown.

If you purchased any commercially prepared caramel apple this fall, do not eat it. Discard in a double bag, wash your hands thoroughly, and clean out the storage area with a bleach solution.

If you ate any commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apple this fall, or ate a Gala or Granny Smith apple, monitor yourself for the symptoms of listeriosis, the illness caused by this bacteria. Those symptoms include headache, fever, stiff neck, muscle aches, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps. Pregnant women can be seriously affected by this bacteria and suffer miscarriage and stillbirth even though their illness is very mild. If you do get sick, see a doctor for treatment with antibiotics as soon as possible.

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