December 17, 2017

Dallas County Health Agency Issues Listeriosis Advisory in Texas

Three cases of listeriosis in Texas have been confirmed to be part of a multistate outbreak of Listeria illnesses related to Blue Bell ice cream products. That linkage has prompted a health advisory to the Dallas County medical community. The Texas Listeria advisory was issued by the Dallas County Health and Human Services agency to heighten awareness of the outbreak. The identical strain of Listeria monocytogenes that recently killed three hospital patients in Wichita, Kansas, also sickened three people in Texas between 2011 and 2014, the FDA has said.

Chocolate Ice Cream“While we have not received any reports of cases in Dallas County related to Blue Bell ice cream products, DCHHS is monitoring the situation to ensure we are abreast of any information related to this outbreak,” said Zachary Thompson, county health director. “Dallas County residents should report any unusual symptoms to a medical provider immediately.”

Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS medical director/health authority, said prompt reporting of symptoms to a health care provider can aid with diagnosis and threatment.  The symptoms — which typically include fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions and muscle aches — can take from two to 70 days to develop after a person consumes food tainted by Listeria organisms. A full 90 percent of people who fall ill with listeriosis are expecting mothers, infants, older adults and people living with compromised immune systems. Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection to the baby.

 

Just prior to the health advisory in Dallas County, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially linked the Texas case patients to an outbreak first described on March 13. The initial announcement said five patients admitted for unrelated conditions at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita contracted listeriosis while hospitalized. Three died. The CDC said at least four of the case patients had consumed milkshakes made from Blue Bell “Scoops” ice cream, which had been found to carry the outbreak strain of the pathogen.

Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries recalled “Scoops” and other single-serve products made with the same machinery.  Further inspections led to recalls of single-serve cups of Blue Bell ice cream sold to hospitals and other institutions. And now the company has recalled various containers of ice cream after Listeria was found in banana pudding ice cream. The FDA has compiled a complete lineup of recalled Blue Bell ice cream products.

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